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Hawaii Daily News Read

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Saturday, September 07, 2019
September 7, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:29 PM :: 1994 Views

DHHL vs OHA on Teardown of Protesters Sacred Shack

UH Terminates Contractor After Data Breach Exposes 70,000 Students

Senate Special Session to Confirm Judicial Nominees

DoE Releases Draft 2030 Promise Plan

Neo-Nazis Brag About Boosting Gabbard's Small-Donor Count

Kouchi Names Broken Trust Figure to Prison Oversight Committee

CB: … Senate President Ron Kouchi appointed Mike Town, who retired from the bench in 2010 after serving for more than 30 years as a trial judge, 14 of which was spent as a family court judge and 16 as a Circuit Court judge.

Town is the third appointee to the five-member Correctional System Oversight Commission, which was established in July when Gov. David Ige signed Act 179 into law….

Flashback 2004:: The FBI targeted state criminal court Judge Michael Town for investigation of possible corruption in 2004, according to a document that was unsealed yesterday in the racketeering and murder trial of Ethan "Malu" Motta, and Rodney Joseph Jr."

Flashback 1999: Judge Town Saves Dickie Wong

read … Retired Judge Appointed To Prison Oversight Commission

Third guilty plea in IBEW union case

KHON: … Michael Brittain acknowledged his role in the scheme that swapped fake votes to force a multimillion dollar dues hike on IBEW local 1260 electrical union members back in 2015.

As with the other co-defendants Russell Yamanoha and Daniel Rose, Brittain faces up to a year in prison and a $10,000 fine when he gets sentenced in January.

A fourth co-defendant will enter her plea later this month….

SA: The scheme netted more than $3.7 million.

read … Third guilty plea in IBEW union case

Attorney: Honolulu taxpayers could pay millions more if city doesn’t settle lawsuit over Kealoha wrongdoing

HNN: … The group framed Puana for the mailbox theft because Puana was trying to expose the Kealohas for stealing family money.

“Mr. Puana’s life was a disaster for several years," Seitz said, "He was followed by up to 30 police officers, he was arrested, he was in prison.”

And Puana’s elderly mother, Florence Puana, now 100 years old, was forced to sell her Wilhelmina Rise home because of Katherine Kealoha’s reverse mortgage scheme.

Seitz says the city is on the hook for the Kealohas’ crimes, “When city officials commit criminal acts in their capacities as policy makers as high ranking city officials then the city is responsible.”

Seitz says if settlement talks are unsuccessful and this civil case has to also go to trial, it could result in a bill of tens of millions of dollars. “All of those things can be compromised and we’re willing to compromise on them if we can avoid running up additional costs and fees.”

Seitz believes the city will end up hiring expensive outside attorneys because corporation counsel is conflicted out. The head of the agency, Donna Leong got a target letter connected to the same public corruption case that took down the Kealohas.

Taxpayers are already paying for the Kealohas’ court appointed attorneys in the federal criminal cases, plus frivolous lawsuits they filed against their accusers ahead of trial….

But attorneys for the city’s corporation counsel office asked the federal magistrate judge to hold off until after the Kealohas’ second trial in January on allegations of bank fraud and identity theft.…

read … Attorney: Honolulu taxpayers could pay millions more if city doesn’t settle lawsuit over Kealoha wrongdoing

Honolulu rail agency to move from current office space next year

PBN: … The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation will need to move to a new office space next year after its lease at Alii Place expires to make way for Hawaiian Electric Co.

HART’s floors, as well as the space currently occupied by the Internal Revenue Service, will eventually be taken over by Hawaiian Electric, which has leased a total of 194,624 square feet over nine full and three partial floors, according to the building’s owner, Bristol Group Inc.

HART currently occupies 64,000 square feet on three and a half floors of the leasehold building at the corner of Alakea and Hotel streets and is one of the building’s largest tenants. The lease on that space expires in November 2020, HART spokesman Bill Brennan told Pacific Business News.

“We are looking for a suitable office space in or around the central business district,” Brennan told PBN in an email. HART is looking for an amount of space similar to what it has now, he said….

read … Honolulu rail agency to move from current office space next year

Ex-HUD worker, who used alias ‘Debbie Kim,’ found guilty of fraud and ID theft

SA: … A federal jury found today a 43-year-old ex-federal housing department worker guilty of wire fraud and identity theft.

The Honolulu woman, Chun Mei Tong schemed to use an alias and forge signatures to rent out properties under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Housing Choice Voucher Program (known as the Section 8 program), while she worked at HUD overseeing the Section 8 program….

Information presented at trial showed Tong directed funds to her company from 2014 to 2019 for five Section 8 rentals on Oahu.

She received about $207,000 from HUD as part of the scheme, using an alias, “Debbie Kim,” to act as a property manager and landlord for five properties she rented to Section 8 voucher holders….

HUD employees are prohibited from participating in the Section 8 program. and engaging in the business of real estate.

Tong failed to disclose her involvement in multiple real estate companies or aliases used in connection with those companies to anyone who worked with the local housing authorities or HUD….

read … Ex-HUD worker, who used alias ‘Debbie Kim,’ found guilty of fraud and ID theft

Soft on Crime: What does it take for a Rapist to Actually Do Some Jail Time?

TGI: … An Anahola man was sentenced on Thursday to five years in jail for violating the terms of his probation by committing a litany of crimes, among them choking a woman, assaulting a police officer and neglecting to register as a sex offender.

Beau Lopez, 33, signed a plea deal in May that resolved seven separate cases pending against him. In exchange for his no-contest plea, prosecutors agreed to drop one misdemeanor, convert two felony charges to misdemeanors, and recommend that the judge give Lopez a five-year sentence instead of the decades he could have spent in jail if convicted at trial.

Even with the plea bargain, Lopez still faced three class C felonies, each of which potentially carried extended 10-year jail terms, and another three misdemeanors. But the new charges were only half of the problem for Lopez.

Last year, when prosecutors charged him with abuse of a family or household member for choking a woman he was living with, Lopez was about seven months into a five-year probation sentence he was given after pleading guilty to seven felonies in four different cases he had picked up over the previous five years….

In the 10 months following the date he started probation on April 19, 2018, Lopez was arrested three times. He has been in police custody since Feb. 21, when police picked him up on an outstanding warrant for failing to comply with sex-offender-registration requirements.

The five-year term of incarceration Lopez was sentenced to on Thursday encompassed penalties for six new crimes and probation violations in four cases.

His list of offenses carried a combined total of nearly 40 years worth of jail time, even without the charges that had been dismissed or reduced in the plea bargain, and prosecutors had the option to seek at least another 15 years under Hawaii statutes that allow extended terms of imprisonment for repeat offenders of violent crimes….

Lopez will be out in five years or less, depending on how the parole board handles his case…

read … Soft on Crime

DHHL: Illegal structures removed in Anahola

TGI: … The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands conducted two joint operations with the Kauai Police Department and mayor’s office in August to remove homeless encampments, unpermitted structures and abandoned vehicles on the makai side of Kuhio Highway in Anahola.

On Aug. 21, the entities, in conjunction with the state Department of Transportation, Gov. David Ige’s state homeless coordinator, and Homeless Support Services removed unpermitted campers and unauthorized structures from DHHL properties in Anahola….

Notices to vacate the premises were issued on Aug. 19. Any unclaimed property was handled in accordance with Hawaii law.

Officials with the KPD and the mayor’s office say both departments are committed to the continued efforts of reducing criminal activities, capturing wanted fugitives, and in assisting with the cleanup of DHHL properties that have become dumping grounds for abandoned vehicles and a haven for illegal structures….

read … Illegal structures removed in Anahola

Sunday ‘Mauna Convoy’ across Oahu

SA … from East Oahu to Waianae on H1…

read … Permit approved for ‘Mauna Convoy’ across Oahu

WOTUS: Maui Council Committee Recommends Capitulate to EarthJustice

MN: … Members of the council Government, Ethics and Transparency Committee voted 5 to 3 to recommend that the full council settle and remove the case from consideration by the high court.

Those voting in favor were committee Chairman Mike Molina, Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, Shane Sinenci, Kelly King and Tamara Paltin. Those voting against were Alice Lee, Yuki Lei Sugimura and Tasha Kama. Riki Hokama was absent and excused.

The committee action comes as Maui County is scheduled to have its appeal heard before the Supreme Court in November. The case, which will have national implications, deals with the reach of the Clean Water Act.

The case stems from a lawsuit filed in 2012 by four environmental groups against the county over injection wells at the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility. Plaintiffs say the effluent is reaching the ocean and impacting coral reefs and sea life.

The county argues that the discharge of the treated wastewater from injection wells does not require permits under the Clean Water Act because the pollutants do not flow directly into the ocean, but rather indirectly through groundwater.

The high courts chose to hear the Maui County case because circuit courts around the country were split over the reach of the Clean Water Act. Maui County has lost in lower courts, most recently in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The council committee voted on a resolution to approve a settlement first proposed publicly by plaintiff Earthjustice earlier this year. The terms include:

• Community groups not bringing litigation for additional penalties as long as the county makes good faith efforts to reduce its reliance on the Lahaina injection wells and injection wells at other facilities as well.

• Pursuant to the parties’ prior agreements, which have been entered as court orders, the county would reimburse the community groups’ costs of litigation in U.S. District Court and the 9th Circuit.

• Pursuant to the previously entered settlement agreement and order, the county would make good faith efforts to secure and comply with the terms of a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, or an equivalent control document, for the Lahaina injection wells.

Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino had proposed a new settlement offer and sought a closed session with members to hear the terms. But the committee deadlocked on going into closed session and never heard the mayor’s proposal.

Managing Director Sandy Baz said the administration did not want to disclose terms publicly without first briefing the committee in private, noting the need to protect the county and the council. Deputy Corporation Counsel Richelle Thomson offered the same legal advice to the council….

SA: The committee’s recommendation now goes to the full Council. The case is scheduled to be heard by the high court Nov. 6.

read … Maui Council committee recommends wastewater court settlement

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