Feds: Chinese pair plotted 'mini-state' in Marshall Islands
Updated Navy Red Hill Plan Released
First Bargaining Session Since Beginning of Kaiser Strike
Wisdom: Hawaii Judges and Judicial Selection Commission Identified as Cause of Crime Wave
KITV: … Former judge and prosecutor Randal Lee knows firsthand the responsibility of sound judgements to keep the community safe from those posing a danger to the public.
"Just like offenders have to be accountable, judges should be held accountable too," he said.
As crime surges on Oahu, many of those responsible for breaking the law remain on the streets even after they've been arrested and prosecuted.
And there's a growing perception that the weak link in efforts to curb lawlessness is the judiciary.
"The judiciary system needs to be overhauled. Bottom line is, they're letting the people down and letting all of these guys who have 50, 60 counts of the same thing let them out and then what happens?," said Sen. Kurt Fevella, who represents the Ewa Beach community. "They commit a higher and a more deadly crime by killing somebody or putting somebody injured in the hospital. That is unacceptable." …
"Sometimes it's their own self preservation," Lee said. "They want to retain their positions and if they take the hard stance on some of these crime issues, they may not be retained by the Judicial Selection Commission."…
read … Hawaii judges under fire as public urges courts to keep criminals behind bars
Just Like Sharon Har--Rep. Matt LoPresti's drunk driving case dismissed
KITV: … The body cam video shows LoPresti arguing with Chun for several minutes about taking a breath test, and LoPresti kept insisting he did nothing wrong.
The police report says Ofc. Mariah Ah Tou transported LoPresti to the Kapolei Police Station. Ah Tou said: "During the transport, I could smell the odor of an alcoholic type beverage within the vehicle. Once LoPresti departed out of my vehicle and upon my return, the odor of an alcoholic type beverage could no longer be detected."
LoPresti later agreed to take a blood test, and a blood sample was taken from him about three hours after he was arrested. Police did not release the results of that test.
LoPresti was charged with OVUII, a misdemeanor, and he was released after posting $500 bail.
After granting LoPresti's motion to dismiss the case on September 2, the court refunded his $500 bail.
The case was dismissed with prejudice so it cannot be refiled.
LoPresti represents District 41 (Ewa, Ewa Beach, Ewa Gentry, Ewa Villages, Hoakalei, and Ocean Pointe). He ran unopposed in the August Democratic primary election for his district, and will face Republican David Alcos in the November general election.
LoPresti did not respond to KITV4's request for comment. …
2022: Bodycam Video Rep Matt LoPresti DUI Arrest
Years of Alcoholic Rage:
read … Rep. Matt LoPresti's drunk driving case dismissed with prejudice
Hawaii Defense Contractor Admits To Pandemic Relief Fraud
CB: … The former CEO of a Hawaii defense contractor pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to bank fraud and money laundering after he obtained more than $12.8 million in pandemic relief loans under false pretenses.
As the head of Navatek LLC in 2020, Martin Kao applied for Paycheck Protection Program loans using false information about his payroll to receive more money than he was entitled to. He also kept applying for new loans under the names of subsidiaries after the company had already received the maximum of $10 million, according to prosecutors.
The program was intended to help small businesses that were suffering at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, but Kao fraudulently obtained millions, then transferred $2 million to himself “for his personal benefit,” federal prosecutor Craig Nolan said Wednesday.
Kao, 49, is now potentially facing decades in prison and millions of dollars in fines. His sentencing was scheduled for January.. …
read … Hawaii Defense Contractor Admits To Pandemic Relief Fraud
Another Key Player In The Miske Conspiracy Case Has Made A Deal With Prosecutors
CB: … By the time Lance Lee Bermudez was 25, he had a reputation as a shooter to go with his nickname, “Hammah.”
He had landed a spot as part of a criminal organization that federal prosecutors allege was controlled and directed by local businessman Michael John Miske Jr., who owned and operated Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control, M Nightclub, a longline fishing boat and several other businesses.
And he displayed a large collection of body art on his 5-foot, 9-inch frame, including “Bermudez” spelled out in ornate letters across his chest and, on the left side of his neck, a biblical quotation: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
But on Wednesday morning, that willingness to sacrifice for his friends proved to have limits. Bermudez, now 31, appeared before federal Judge Derrick Watson by video conference to plead guilty to three felony charges as part of a deal with prosecutors….
ILind: The “Hammah” falls
read … Another Key Player In The Miske Conspiracy Case Has Made A Deal With Prosecutors
Director Of Honolulu’s Troubled Permitting Office Resigns
CB: … Two of the top leaders of Honolulu’s beleaguered permitting office have resigned from their posts, effective Tuesday, Mayor Rick Blangiardi confirmed on Wednesday.
Department of Planning and Permitting Director Dean Uchida and Danette Maruyama, the city’s former deputy managing director who was installed as DPP’s chief innovation strategist in January, are no longer in their jobs.
Deputy DPP Director Dawn Takeuchi-Apuna is now the acting director.
For months, DPP has been under fire from its customers for what they say are unprecedented delays in obtaining residential and commercial permits, and that frustration appears to have reached a boiling point. As of last month, more than 8,000 projects were pending, according to data released by City Council member Andria Tupola.
(CLUE: After Feds deny DPP employees the right to take bribes, DPP employees refuse to do their jobs.)
The resignations come just one week before Blangiardi is scheduled to meet with a group of construction industry professionals to discuss the problems with DPP, according to an industry source.
In a statement, Blangiardi alluded to differences of opinion between himself and the departing DPP leaders….
SA: Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting director, top official resign
read … Director Of Honolulu’s Troubled Permitting Office Resigns
Affordable housing scandal: Council seeks watered-down accounting; defendants fire their lawyers
HTH: … Two alleged conspirators in a scheme involving fraudulent use of Hawaii County affordable housing credits want to defend themselves without lawyers.
Hilo attorneys Paul Joseph Sulla Jr. and Gary Charles Zamber, in a Sept. 1 status conference with federal Magistrate Judge Kenneth J. Mansfield, asked that their attorneys be terminated so they can represent themselves. The judge set a Sept. 28 hearing to consider the request….
The Hawaii County Council on Wednesday voted 8-0, with North Kona Councilman Holeka Inaba absent, on a resolution requesting the county auditor verify that the issuing and utilization of affordable housing credits are being carried out properly and to ensure the credits that are outstanding are legitimate. The council also sought assurances that the county has available the proper resources and plans to assure accounting of the credits.
Inaba, the resolution’s sponsor, had originally sought a more ambitious investigation by the auditor, but backed off after Auditor Tyler Benner said he didn’t want to get in the way of the federal investigation….
read … Affordable housing scandal: Council seeks accounting; defendants fire their lawyers
Kaua‘i county council approves raises for mayor, department heads, councilmembers
TGI: … In a procedure unique among Hawai‘i counties, Kaua‘i County councilmembers unanimously voted Wednesday to approve raises that will likely affect some of their own salaries.
Salary Commission Resolution No. 2022-1 increases the maximum salaries of the mayor, department heads and councilmembers 15% by July 2024….
The measure bumps the council salary from $67,956 to $78,672 in 2024. The council chair makes $76,452, and would make $88,502….
Of the sitting councilmembers, only Cowden does not have a second source of income.
Kaneshiro works as a consultant and sheep rancher, where he makes more than $100,000, ethics disclosures show.
Carvalho receives a state employees retirement income of $70,000. Kuali‘i is paid $22,000 by the YWCA. Evslin gets $30,000 from his business Kamanu Composites, and works as a substitute teacher and paddling coach at Island School. Chock gets $20,000 through the public employee retirement system, and DeCosta gets $70,000 from the state Department of Education, along with $36,000 in rental income.
Kaua‘i is the only county in the state in which the county council holds sway over its own salaries. In Maui, for instance, salaries for the mayor and councilmembers are decided by a salary commission that does not answer to the county council….
read … Kaua‘i county council approves raises for mayor, department heads, councilmembers
Maui Police Commission Finds Complaints Against New Chief ‘Not Substantiated’
CB: …Before Wednesday’s meeting, the commission received a number of anonymous letters, many of which accused Pelletier of operating like a “dictator.”
“Never in my 20 plus years have I seen such divisiveness, favoritism, high number of complaints against a chief and officers retiring due to this chief,” wrote one testifier, who signed off as “MPD officer.”
But during the meeting, other Maui residents and former colleagues in Las Vegas took the stand to publicly praise Pelletier’s performance leading the department that for years grappled with morale issues and understaffing under the direction of his embattled predecessor, Tivoli Faaumu. Police department data show that the current crisis has escalated over the last five years, mirroring a national trend among police departments where resignations have soared and departments have struggled to attract new officers.
Mike Crowe, a Maui police officer who works in patrol in the Kihei district, credited Pelletier with making a number of changes that drastically improved officers’ lives, including updating uniforms and creating work schedules that allow officers to spend more time with their families.
“I can’t speak for the rest of the department, but I can tell you here in Kihei, we directly benefited from the decisions and changes that Chief Pelletier has made,” Crowe said.
But Wednesday’s meeting likely won’t be the end of the discussions over Pelletier’s leadership at MPD. In a statement, Nick Krau, who chairs SHOPO’s Maui chapter, said there are still multiple complaints under investigation. The exact number wasn’t available Wednesday.
“We expect those complaints to be taken seriously, investigated fully and decided fairly based upon the available evidence,” Krau said….
MN: Commission declines to discipline police chief
read … Maui Police Commission Finds Complaints Against New Chief ‘Not Substantiated’
HPD Uses High Technology To Catch Criminals
KITV: … HPD now has 21 A-L-P-R units that capture computer images of license plates. The machines compare plate numbers against those of stolen cars--or cars driven by people suspected of criminal activities. HPD says, A-L-P-R Systems are like having more eyes on the road to investigate and to help detect possible criminal activity….
In August, HPD Reports, the Automated License Plate Reader System detected 39 Stolen license plates, 30 Stolen vehicles and 3 wanted vehicles….
read … HPD Uses High Technology To Catch Criminals
Hawaii Health Department reports 1,215 new COVID-19 infections, 11 coronavirus-related deaths
SA: … The Hawaii Department of Health today reported 1,215 new COVID-19 infections over the past week, continuing a descent and bringing the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic to 340,729.
The state’s seven-day average of new cases also fell to 190, down from 245 on Aug. 31, adding to a continued decline this summer. DOH’s daily average reflects new cases per day from Aug. 27 to Sept. 2, which is an earlier set of days than the new infections count. Actual numbers are estimated to be at least five to six times higher since these figures do not include home test kit results.
DOH also reported 11 more deaths, bringing the state’s coronavirus-related death toll to 1,655….
HTH: 3 more Big Island residents die from COVID
HTH: Japan loosens travel restrictions
HNN: After delays in Hawaii’s wastewater monitoring program, DOH officials said they have started processing some wastewater samples to monitor COVID.
read … Hawaii Health Department reports 1,215 new COVID-19 infections, 11 coronavirus-related deaths
Abrupt closure of air ambulance company leaves many in shock
HNN: … LiveSave KuPono flew patients from the neighbor islands to the trauma unit at The Queen’s Medical Center, or to Straub Medical Center or Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children.
The parent company, Air Methods, said it closed several bases nationwide Wednesday, blaming unprecedented inflation and the federal “No Surprises Act” that requires the disclosure of medical expense estimates.
It also said there was significant under-reimbursement from Medicare, which would pay only about 10% for an air ambulance transport, which can cost $15,000 to $30,000 or more…..
read … Abrupt closure of air ambulance company leaves many in shock