by Andrew Walden
Two years after a gang of alleged mortgage scammers tied to the sovereignty movement was exposed, Maui Hawaiian community leaders are inundated with victims. Some have already lost their homes to foreclosure.
Christopher Fishkin of Wailuku and Patricia Nishiyama of Lahaina based Na Kupuna O Maui are appealing to the Hawaiian Homes Commission for leniency in the case of one family on Waiohuli Hawaiian Homelands in Kula, Maui, whose fate is all to typical.
Fishkin tells Hawai’i Free Press:
The Kawaakoa family has a home and a lease in Hawaiian Homes that was revoked.
Gary and Hilda Kawaakoa were duped into a scam by a Native Hawaiian woman named Mahealani Ventura-Oliver of Hawaii Loa Foundation, who represented to them that they didn't need to pay on their mortgage note, because it was already paid for. Mahealani and her organization have already caused harm to other Native Hawaiians who have taken her to court.
Gary and Hilda believed they were doing what was right and pono and now realize that they have been mislead and manipulated and wish to make it right; make it whole, and start paying on their note. They humbly ask that they not lose their land and their home. They have a family with keikis and we are appealing to the Department of Hawaiian Homelands and the Governor's Office and the Attorney General Mark Bennett for the Commissioners to repeal the revocation of the Kawaakoa lease, due to the mitigating circumstances of the fraud perpetrated against them.
In a letter sent October 23 to Department of Hawaiian Homelands, Fishkin writes:
I wish to bring special attention to the matter concerning the Kawaakoa family's revocation of their lease in Waiohuli Hawaiian Homelands, Maui..
I have reviewed your findings of fact and conclusions of law and order regarding the revocation of their lease, and it all appears in perfect order on your part. The main problem is that the Kawaakoa's were preyed upon, mislead and defrauded by Mahealani Ventura-Oliver Ko Hawaii Paie Aina - Hawaii Loa Foundation, and no matter how much I know you tried to tell them, they weren't able to listen, because, they were told not to trust you and that's the problem.
With myself, who have known the Kawaakoa family for about 10 years, along with Na Kupuna O Maui with Auntie Patty Nishiyama, we were able to successfully demonstrate the apparent scam that was perpetrated against Gary and Hilda Kawaakoa. As such there is now a need for justice and healing. However, why must we continue to punish the victims of the crime?
It is important that the Hawaiians be for each other, and not set against each other. The fraud involved here has created serious mitigating circumstances, and because the circumstances have changed and Gary and Hilda finally understand what has transpired; regarding their being duped. It may have taken to the end of the rope to get us all to the right place. But, can we now use the rope to pull ourselves out of the ditch….
In a separate letter to DHHL, Patricia Nishiyama adds:
We were informed by Gary Kawaakoa and Hilda Kawaakoa, that they were victimized by Ko Hawaii Pae Aina - Hawaii Loa Foundation and were intentionally mislead by Mahealani Ventura-Oliver. She, among others, encouraged followers to stop making payments on their mortgage and she instructed many of our Hawaiian people that certain government bonds would be used to pay in full their mortgages. As a result, many have already lost their homes, while others are in foreclosure proceedings, very close to losing their homes, and this now includes the Kawaakoa’s.
Na Kupuna O Maui requests to postpone or stop the eviction of the family, Kawaakoa, from Waohuli Hawaiian Homelands. Because of the directions of Ko Hawaii Pae Aina-Hawaii Loa Foundation, the Kawaakoa’s were victimized and mislead into thinking that they own their home free and clear.
We would like to sit down with Hawaiian families and the Department of Hawaiian Homelands and help address this crisis that has been caused by Mahealani Ventura-Oliver of Ko Hawaii Pae Aina-Hawaii Loa Foundation
Because of this fraud there must be justice as regards Mahealani Ventura-Oliver Ko Hawaii Pae Aina-Hawaii Loa Foundation. There must also be the healing of the harm they have caused many of our Hawaiian people.
The Kawaakoa’s names show up next to the date May 14, 2008 on a Ko Hawaii Pae Aina “registry” containing the names of hundreds of other potential victims.
According to Fishkin, officers of the DHHL enforcement division have been very helpful. Some DHHL commissioners have responded positively to the Kawaakoa’s willingness to abandon their belief in the scam and pay their mortgage.
I know there are others who have retained an attorney. We are in the process of getting affidavits from those other individuals and families who have suffered from this as well.
Mahelani Ventura-Oliver was telling them the loan was illegally transacted in the first place; the mortgage already paid for, and that DHHL was illegal in the first place. This fraud was perpetrated against Gary and Hilda Kawaakoa and the Department of Hawaiian Homelands and it is continuing, as I write, with other families who have not yet been effectively disabused of these fraudulent beliefs and other families have already been harmed.
The FBI seized assets from Ventura-Oliver, Petro Hoy and other well known sovereignty activists in April, 2009. The Honolulu Advertiser reported:
…the FBI raided four Maui homes, seized records and cars and confiscated more than $100,000 from bank accounts as part of an ongoing investigation into Ko Hawaii Pae Aina, according to court documents…..
…(the) FBI (alleges) the group is marketing a "Royal Hawaiian Treasury Bond" to homeowners behind on their mortgage payments on O'ahu, Maui, the Big Island and Kaua'i. The sellers promise that for a fee of $2,500 to $10,000, the bond will cover any outstanding debt — mortgage, credit card and other debt — because the bond holder's property will be part of an "untouchable Hawaiian nation."
"The United States is conducting a criminal investigation into the activities of various individuals involved in the marketing of a program which allegedly provides mortgage loan assistance to individuals experiencing financial difficulties," wrote U.S. attorney Lawrence L. Tong, in the government's response to a motion to return the seized property and cash. "The government has not yet brought charges against any of the individuals, and the nature and scope of the ongoing investigation is confidential."
Ko Hawaii Pae Aina operating officers (include) John D. Oliver, Petro T. Hoy, Leatrice Lehua Hoy, Pilialoha K. Teves and Mahealani Ventura-Oliver….
FBI agents seized a 2009 Toyota Prius driven by Leatrice Lehua Hoy, and 2005 and 2006 Toyota Tacoma pickup trucks owned by John D. Oliver and Ihilani K.A. Catagul, according to documents filed by U.S. attorneys in response to the group's assertion that their assets were seized without warrant.
Assistant U.S. attorneys Tong and Rachel S. Moriyama also laid out the justification for the confiscation of more than $100,000 the government asserts the group members stole from duped investors.
The government seized $22,063.29 from a Petro T. Hoy trust at First Hawaiian Bank, and $79,087 from the Pilialoha K. Teves Trust at Hawaii National Bank.
There is an awareness all over Hawaii Nei that Mahealani Ventura-Oliver of Ko Hawaii Pae Aina-Hawaii Loa Foundation has made the Hawaiian people victims of her fraud and selfishness….
Ko Hawaii Pae Aina and its officers have not returned messages seeking comment from Hawai’i Free Press going back as far as 2008 and did not respond to inquiries for this article.