Dennis Alexio was one of the most popular fighters in Hawaii.
Now the former kickboxing champion faces prison time for stealing money from the federal government.
On Friday, a jury found Alexio guilty on 28 counts, including tax fraud, theft, and money laundering.
But his fall from grace goes beyond the verdict.
The trial took a strange turn with the way Alexio was behaving. His erratic behavior in court started Thursday, which led to Alexio being thrown in jail even before the jury came out with the guilty verdict.
“Well the defendant acted the way he wanted to act. That’s about all I can say. I don’t know why. I don’t know what his thought process was,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Marshall Silverberg.
Proceedings in federal court were already unusual with Alexio representing himself for defrauding the IRS of hundreds of thousand of dollars.
Even before the jury entered the courtroom, Alexio kept asking Judge Michael Seabright, “Who are you?” and “Do you have a claim against me?”
With what the judge called “escalation in erratic behavior,” U.S. Marshals took Alexio out of the courtroom and he was forced to watch the proceeding by video conference.
When asked what happened, Cliff Hunt, the defense attorney assigned to help Alexio, responded, “I really don’t know what was going on with Dennis this morning, so I can’t really comment on his state of mind.”
Federal agents arrested Alexio in 2013 at Aiea Shopping Center. His wife, Anitalei, was also arrested after agents raided their home in Aiea. She cooperated with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to lesser charges.
Prosecutors say Alexio filed false tax returns for himself and his wife and wound up getting $500,000 in tax refunds from the IRS.
After finding him guilty, the jury also ordered Alexio to forfeit more than $226,000 in cashier’s checks, and a Nissan Armada.
The man known for beating his opponents while wearing a grass skirt in the ring now faces years in prison, a maximum penalty of five years for the most serious count.
Alexio is scheduled to return to federal court for another trial, in which he’s accused of stealing more than $200,000 in gold coins and bars.
The attorney assigned to help him knows it will be difficult to win that one if Alexio wants to keep representing himself.
“Do you try to talk somebody out of that?” KHON2 asked.
“Of course, and Judge Seabright spent a lot of time during some of the hearings in the case explaining the dangers of self representation and how unlevel the playing field is,” Hunt said.
Alexio’s sentencing is scheduled for May 5.