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Former Kauai County Council member will serve at least 15 years in drug trafficking case
ILind: … Former Kauai County Councilmember Arthur Brun entered a guilty plea in Honolulu’s US District Court yesterday, the end of an extraordinary 15 year odyssey from the depths of meth addiction when, in his own words, he “went down to ground zero,” but was then able to get clean, being elected to two terms on the county council, the second time while he was again falling victim to methamphetamine use and running his own drug trafficking organization, until his indictment and arrest on federal drug trafficking charges February 2020….
Prosecutors concluded that “although he held a position of public trust, the investigation did not reveal evidence that the defendant used that position ‘in a manner that significantly facilitated the commission or concealment of the offense.'”…
“Significantly, the investigation in this matter–which included, among other things, extensive inquiry by a forensic auditor employed by ATF–did not reveal any evidence that the defendant obtained any significant profit from his drug trafficking activities, but rather supported the conclusion that his proceeds were spent in significant part on purchases of controlled substances for his own personal use.”…
It was kind of a hodgepodge crew. A member of the prison gang, United Samoan Organization, who Brun met in 2016 while driving prisoners to community service activities as part of a reentry program at Kauai Community Correctional Center, and later contacted after his release from custody. A woman who Brun used to hang out with and provide drugs to back between 2004 and 2006, who he approach again in 2019 looking to buy “stuff.” She had a friend who had moved to the mainland, and later sent four packages of “stuff” at Brun’s request. Another woman who had been one of Brun’s suppliers around 2002 or 2003, and reconnected with Brun in around 2018 and agreed to (and did) supply small amounts of meth to him when other sources went dry. A woman who flew into Princeville on chartered private planes carrying pound quantities of meth. A former addict who successfully completed drug treatment and was no longer a user, until Brun offered him meth and a pipe while the two were hanging out together, and became a trusted runner and co-conspirator. A man who received drugs from Brun and distributed them to others, and provided other assistance to Brun’s drug trafficking activities. A woman who had been drug free for seven or eight years before relapsing, and receiving meth from Brun for herself in exchange for working as a runner. A former drug associate of Brun’s from the early 2000s, who reconnected with Brun in 2019 after being released from federal prison. He offered to assist in collecting drug debts, also sought Brun’s help in obtaining an unregistered gun, and stepped in to protect Brun when he was threatened by another USO gang member at a part in October 2019. A man who received meth which Brun delivered to his residence. A woman who delivered meth to Brun’s customers and collected their payments.
Most have now also pleaded guilty in the case.
Details of the offenses admitted to by Brun are spelled out on pages 13 through 41 of the plea agreement, which is attached below….
read … Former Kauai County Council member will serve at least 15 years in drug trafficking case
Josh Green Raises Money On Mainland For Hawaii Governor’s Race
CB: The Ige administration issued a proclamation Wednesday declaring disaster emergency relief for drought-stricken Maui County. Rainfall, stream flow and ground water “continue to be significantly below normal,” says a press release.
The order came from Attorney General Clare Connors, who is acting governor this week while Gov. David Ige is in Glasgow, Scotland, for the COP26 climate change summit.
Where is Lt. Gov. Josh Green?
… According to the state Campaign Spending Commission, Green has been raising money on the mainland for his expected 2022 run for governor. Green confirmed the fundraisers.
“I was asked in 2020 to keynote the Movement is Life healthcare conference which occurred last week, and took time to see my family after that,” he said Wednesday via text. “I hadn’t seen them in over a year. I return tomorrow. In between I also met with several national entities that are interested in partnering with Hawaii on healthcare disparities and economic development and also attended fundraisers that were organized by friends.”
Green held a fundraiser on Nov. 4 at Bistro Cacao, which serves modern French cuisine, in Washington, D.C. LaFave and Associates, a D.C.-based fundraising and political consulting firm, organized the fundraisers, and the firm’s founder Lori LaFave is on the payroll of Green’s campaign.
Green also was scheduled to raise money Wednesday at the home of David and Beth Javdan of Bethesda, Maryland. The suggested contribution in the latter event is as much as $6,000.
David Javdan is managing director of New York and D.C.-based consulting firm Alvarez and Marsal….
read … Josh Green Raises Money On Mainland For Hawaii Governor’s Race
Can Hawaii Complete an Energy Revolution by 2030?
IM: … Hawai’i electricity should come from 100% renewable energy in 2045. Why 2045? Because some people thought the year should be 2040 and others thought it should be 2050. Splitting the difference, the year 2045 was chosen.
The law has three major known problems. First, the law allows some very terrible solutions to count as renewable energy. Second, 100% doesn’t mean 100%. Third, the 100% by 2045 law does not have anything to do with cost or climate change. It is simply a renewable energy target.
The AES coal plant will go offline on September 1, 2022. The date sounded fine. But then the pandemic interrupted global supply lines delaying some renewable energy projects designed to replace the AES load.
Some legislators asserted that it is a problem that Hawai’i doesn’t have a detailed plan on how to achieve 100% renewable energy. Climate activists have asserted that we need to get to 100% renewable energy by 2030 to avert the worst of climate change. …
read … Can Hawai`i Complete an Energy Revolution by 2030
DoTax Sues Oil Refiner for $10s of Millions in back Taxes
CB: … The State of Hawaii has sued the state’s largest oil refiner, alleging the company relied on a flawed interpretation of state tax law to skirt paying tens of millions of dollars in taxes annually for an unknown number of years.
The lawsuit, a whistleblower complaint filed in Honolulu circuit court against Par Hawaii Refining, could have broad implications for firms operating in Hawaii’s foreign trade zones….
“Specific measures, including conspiring with others, have been taken, many of which were conducted knowingly and/or fraudulently with the intent of avoiding and preventing the State from collecting tens of millions of dollars in taxes per year,” the suit alleges. “Deductions have been claimed without foundation and gross misrepresentations have been made regarding the nature and taxability of refined fuel products, other tangible goods and services for years.”
The suit’s outcome also could affect Par contractors. Although none of them are named in the 67-page complaint, the document alleges Par told the contractors that state taxes did not apply to services provided to the company’s refinery, leading the contractors to refrain from paying the taxes. As the lawsuit has unfolded in recent months, the Department of Taxation has issued multiple statements asking taxpayers that failed to pay required taxes in foreign trade zones to do so, although the statements do not refer to the lawsuit.
The suit was originally filed in May by Theodore Metrose, a Par employee, under Hawaii’s false claims act — a rarely-used law that lets people with knowledge of wrongdoing sue on the state’s behalf. In September, after repeatedly asking the court for more time to review the matter, the Hawaii Attorney General stepped in as an intervenor, effectively taking over as the lead plaintiff in the case, court records show….
At the center of the suit is the question of what taxes apply to companies operating in Hawaii’s foreign trade zones, which are established and licensed under federal law and further regulated under state law. Par operates its massive refinery, formerly owned by Tesoro, in a foreign trade zone located at Campbell Industrial Park.
In September, as the state was contemplating whether to take up Metrose’s case against Par Hawaii, the Department of Taxation issued legal guidance, known as a tax information release, “to clarify the exemption from state taxes in a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ)….
The department reiterated the message the next month in a press release…
read … Hawaii Sues State’s Largest Oil Refiner For Alleged Unpaid Taxes
Department of Education finds no bias in how girl’s arrest was handled
SA: … According to a Nov. 8 letter, an ongoing DOE investigation has found no wrongdoing by the employees of Honowai Elementary School in how they handled the Jan. 10, 2020, incident. A preliminary investigation revealed “a multitude of inaccuracies and omissions” in the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii and attorney Mateo Caballero’s account.
School administrators called police at the request of the parent of one of the students whose name was written on the drawing with a death threat….
In another letter written on Nov. 8, interim Honolulu Police Chief Rade Vanic also denied any bias on the part of officers and declined to meet any of the Taylor legal team’s demands. Vanic said in the letter that given the tragic lessons learned from deadly mainland school shootings, any death threat is always taken very seriously. He said the girl was not interrogated and officers did not take a formal statement from her. He said it was unfortunate they injected race into the incident and described attempts to label the drawing offensive, without describing what it was, as “extremely misleading.”
Caballero countered that HPD also was picking and choosing facts.
Two other students, who are not Black, contributed to the drawing and the 10-year-old did not want them to deliver it to the person who was allegedly bullying her. Neither of the contributing artists was questioned or arrested in connection with the incident.
The 10-year-old had no record of bad behavior at the school and was always drawing to help manage her attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and the painful experiences resulting from being bullied, according to Caballero.
Big Q: Do you think the violent drawing by a girl, 10, against Honowai Elementary classmates was a threat that justified police arrest?
read … Department of Education finds no bias in how girl’s arrest was handled
Short-term rental bill advances despite ‘confusion’
SA: … The Honolulu City Council is considering a measure that would alter the rules for short-term rentals, notably increasing the minimum stay to six months from 30 days for short-term rentals without a special permit.
However, the bill submitted by the city Department of Planning and Permitting was the ‘incorrect’ version, which further confused members of the public who testified on the measure.
During the past few months, the Honolulu Planning Commission has been considering a proposed bill by the DPP to adjust the current short-term rental rules. The commission made its decision at the end of September, amending the original measure to submit to the Council for consideration.
The DPP ‘accidentally’ submitted the original version of the bill to the Council instead of the version that was approved by the Planning Commission. By the time the error was realized, it was too late to change it before the bill’s first reading. The DPP has submitted a request to amend the bill to the version with the recommendations from the Planning Commission.
Testifiers expressed their confusion and wondered what happened to the changes agreed upon by the Planning Commission.
“The Planning Commission made the recommendation to only advance the section of the bill that relates to the residential areas and to leave the resort areas out for further discussion, but the Bill 41 does not reflect that,” said Michelle Yel, a local transient vacation unit owner in the Waikiki resort area.
“We work very hard to operate our business to support my family. I’m asking you to not take away my family’s livelihood, to not take away my legal business.”
As written, Bill 41 only allows hotels to operate in a Waikiki resort-mixed-use area. However, transient vacation units will be allowed under the potential amended bill submitted by the DPP, reflecting the Planing Commission’s recommendations.
Another aspect of the bill that was adjusted in the Planning Commission recommendation’s version is exemptions to the 180-day rule for “transient occupants,” such as military personnel, full-time students and travel nurses….
SA: The Council advanced the correct version, with its key provision of increasing the minimum stay in a short-term rental to six months, up from 30 days
read … Short-term rental bill advances despite confusion
Rapist Beats Conviction Thanks to Hawaii Supreme Court
MN: … The prosecution dismissed the case against David Fleming with prejudice on Monday, when a trial date was to be set for him in 2nd Circuit Court.
“The decision to dismiss was not based on the facts of the case, which were proved beyond a reasonable doubt at trial in 2010,” said Deputy Prosecutor Elizabeth Nardi. “The conviction was overturned based on the court’s inability to determine if the defendant was competent during the trial, despite the determination being made he was competent prior to trial commencing. The state maintains its position that factually, defendant committed the sexual assault.”
Defense attorney Hayden Aluli…
Fleming, now 61, had pleaded not guilty to first-degree sexual assault of the woman, who was a passenger in a taxicab he was driving the night of May 9, 2006, in Lahaina.
The 24-year-old woman left a Lahaina bar after having drinks and got into his van when he drove her to her apartment three minutes away, according to testimony at Fleming’s trial in 2010. The woman testified that after she paid the fare and got out, Fleming shoved her up against the taxicab and raped her in the complex parking lot.
Before his trial, Fleming had been twice examined by three appointed psychiatrists or psychologists who found him mentally fit to proceed.
During the trial and before Fleming testified, his attorney argued to the court that Fleming wasn’t mentally fit to proceed and asked for Fleming to be examined again. The court denied the request.
Following the guilty verdict, his sentencing to the mandatory 20-year prison term was delayed for more than four years, first after he was found mentally unfit to proceed and proceedings were suspended while he sought psychiatric treatment.
The court revoked his conditional release in September 2012 and he was committed to the Hawaii State Hospital for treatment.
He was found fit to proceed to sentencing in May 2014, before he was sentenced in July 2014.
Aluli said Fleming had been in state custody for nine years and seven months, starting when he was committed to the Hawaii State Hospital.
After being sentenced, he served time at Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Ariz., before he was released on a $50,000 bond in June after the state Supreme Court order that vacated the conviction and sent the case back to 2nd Circuit Court….
read … Soft on Crime
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