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Friday, December 30, 2022
December 30, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:17 PM :: 2646 Views

Hawaii:  Long, expensive road for government permission to work

Green Announces Seven New Appointees--Pulls Tokioka and Yamane from House

November 2022 Tourist Count 90.9% of November 2019 

Department of Agriculture Awards 579 Microgrants

Bishop Street Lawyer tries to Steal $2M--Loses Law License

ILind: … According to ODC’s recitation of the charges, Robert E. Chapman represented a client in a civil suit involving a commercial real estate lease. The case was settled at the end of 1988.

ODC said “Chapman has never met nor spoken with” the former client, and has not spoken with her representative since about 1989.

Sometime in late 2015, Chapman became aware the state’s Unclaimed Property Program was holding at least $852,565.19 in cash, and four safe deposit boxes containing other valuables, belonging to his former client. As additional property was itemized, the estimated value grew closer to $2 million.

On November 5, 2015, Chapman went to the public records room at First Circuit Court to look at files from the 1980’s lawsuit, which included several document signed by the former client, and obtain copies of selected records. On the same day, he wrote to an accountant claiming to represent her and her company, and asking to received copies of any files held by the accountant. Chapman made similar requests over to several banks seeking records associated with her accounts, including original applications setting up the accounts.

He also filed a claim with the state for all the property held in the former client’s name.

To support his requests, Chapman provided copies of a power of attorney purportedly signed by the client.

The state repeatedly sought additional evidence that the long-missing client was even still alive. That was a key point, because a power of attorney is no longer valid after the death of the principal. Despite the repeated demands for additional documentation, such as a current government-issued photo ID of his supposed client, Chapman never complied.

A forensic document examiner contracted by the state in 2019 “concluded that Power of Attorney documents were forgeries created using publicly available court documents” from the earlier 1980s litigation.

Investigators finally located Chapman’s former client living in Taiwan, where she was interviewed on November 7, 2019.

She “stated that she did not know who Chapman was, had never met him, that she did not authorize Chapman to represent her in any personal financial matters, and that she did not sign the Power of Attorney” ….

ODC: Chapman wrongfully attempted to lay claim to over $2,000,000.00 in abandoned property held by the Hawai̔i Department of Budget and Finance

1987: 1CC870000425 - 1910 PARTNERS VS ANITA MEI-LEE HSU

2018: 1SP181000293 - RE ANITA MEI LEE HSU

2019: 1CC191000484 - ANITA MEI LEE HSU VS DIR SOH DEPT BUDGET & FINANCE

read … Fraud allegations lead to resignation of prominent business attorney

Development consultant appointed to run DLNR draws criticism

HNN: … Gov. Josh Green’s appointee to manage state lands and the environment could already be in trouble as the environmental community organizes opposition.

Dawn Naomi S. Chang spent years working for developers — and some say she crossed the line especially in a high profile native burials case.

Chang owns Kuiwalu — a consulting firm that has worked years helping companies and agencies get their projects approved through state regulators.

It’s also a role that raised fears she will side against environmental and cultural protection, according to environmental rights attorney David Kimo Frankel.

“For more than a decade, she’s been paid by developers to advance their projects,” Frankel said. “Having someone like that, as the chairman of the board, land Natural Resources is a concern.”

Chang’s former clients included the University of Hawaii, helping develop the Mauna Kea management plan, and doing community engagement for the proposed Department of Defense missile defense project.

She also represented prominent developers such as the Howard Hughes Corporation and even the rail project, before state agencies she will oversee….

read … Development consultant appointed to run land department draws criticism

2022: Looking Back on a Year of Corruption Busts

SA: … The U.S. Department of Justice’s anti-corruption campaign in Hawaii kicked into high gear with a series of prosecutions against county and state government officials across three islands.

>> In January former Honolulu Managing Director Roy Amemiya Jr., former Corporation Counsel Donna Leong and former Honolulu Police Commission Chairman Max Sword turned themselves in to the FBI after their attorneys were notified they would be arrested for allegedly conspiring to defraud the government by setting up a $250,000 payment to disgraced former Police Chief Louis Kealoha to voluntarily leave HPD in January 2017.

All three pleaded not guilty and are free on bond pending their trials in federal court, now scheduled for June.

>> The following month, retired state Sen. J. Kalani English of Maui and sitting Rep. Ty Cullen of Central Oahu were charged with honest services wire fraud for accepting cash, hotel stays, casino chips and other gifts in exchange for introducing measures, killing legislation and relaying legislative intelligence to benefit Milton Choy, whose company provides wastewater services and industrial machinery.

Both men pleaded guilty, and English was sentenced in July to 40 months in federal prison and fined $100,000. Cullen, who immediately resigned from office, is due for sentencing in January.

>> Choy also was a key figure in federal bribery cases against two former officials with the Maui County Department of Environmental Management. Federal prosecutors accused Stewart Olani Stant of accepting about $2 million in cash, bank deposits and gambling trips in exchange for steering $19.3 million in contracts to Choy’s company. Stant pleaded guilty in September and is awaiting sentencing in February.

Wilfredo Savella pleaded guilty in December to charges that he accepted more than $40,000 in bribes under a similar arrangement with Choy. His sentencing is scheduled for April.

It was after his arrest in the Maui cases that Choy cooperated with federal authorities to set up the sting operation that led to downfall of English and Cullen. He pleaded guilty to a single bribery charge and is due for sentencing in May.

>> The biggest public figure to face federal corruption charges in 2022 was former Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro, who was indicted in June on conspiracy to commit bribery and fraud charges. Federal prosecutors allege that Dennis Mitsunaga, head of a major engineering and project management firm, cut a deal with Kaneshiro in 2012 to charge one of the businessman’s former employees with felony theft in exchange for $45,000 in campaign contributions.

Also indicted in the alleged scheme were Mitsunaga & Associates executives Terri Ann Otani, Aaron Shunichi Fujii and Chad Michael McDonald and attorney Sheri Jean Tanaka. All have pleaded not guilty and were released pending trial set for March.

>> In July four people were indicted in an alleged scheme that federal authorities said defrauded Hawaii County of nearly $11 million in land and excess affordable-housing credits while depriving residents of affordable housing. Attorneys Paul Joseph Sulla Jr. and Gary Charles Zamber were charged with multiple counts of wire fraud and conspiracy, and Sulla was additionally charged with laundering the proceeds of the conspiracy.

The alleged housing scheme also involved county housing specialist Alan Scott Rudo and businessman Rajesh Budhabhatti, who were both charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Trial for Sulla, Zamber and Budhabhatti is set for August; Rudo pleaded guilty and is scheduled for sentencing in May.

>> In a case involving a high-ranking labor union official, a federal jury in November found Brian Ahakuelo and his wife, Marilyn Ahakuelo, guilty of conspiracy, wire fraud and embezzlement for crimes committed while they were employed by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1260. Brian Ahakuelo, who served as the union’s business manager and financial secretary, was additionally convicted of money laundering.

Evidence presented at trial showed that Ahakuelo hired family members at high salaries and authorized the use of union funds for personal purposes, including extravagant travel for himself and those loyal to him.

Sentencing for the couple is set for March….

read … Corruption shakes trust

Quiet Title: How one Kuleana Plot was Reversed

CB: … Almost 170 years ago, Kapu’s ancestors were awarded the land to live on, care for and farm during the Great Mahele, the 19th century land division that for the first time in history allowed private property ownership in Hawaii. But like an untold number of families, they lost hold of land in the century that followed, forced to seek work in the cities or displaced when plantations moved in and sucked up stream water that once fed flourishing taro patches….

The Kapus … have asserted in a number of court cases that some of the parcels that Pioneer Mill sold to West Maui Land were never rightfully the company’s to sell….

Throughout the early 2000s, West Maui Land filed lawsuits to clear up disputes over the property transferred from Pioneer Mill in Kauaula. The Kapus fought back. In 2017, they won their first major legal victory when a jury ruled that Kapu’s family owned the entirety of a 3.4 acre parcel that had been awarded to his family more than a century and a half earlier. His attorneys, Lance Collins and Bianca Isaki, proved that Pioneer Mill had acquired the deed to the property in the 1890s by a person the family didn’t know — and who didn’t actually exist.

Then last month, the Hawaii Supreme Court handed down what Kapu sees as another win in the fight for a parcel neighboring the one he already owns, on which he built his father’s home years ago. The justices said that a lower court was wrong when it initially sided with West Maui Land during a hearing years ago that Kapu didn’t know about because his first attorney, Richard McCarty, had died. The ruling also said that the lower court abused its power when it denied Kapu’s request for a hearing when he was representing himself without an attorney.

Now, West Maui Land must start the entire process over again if it wants to continue the fight over ownership in court….

read … How One Hawaiian Family Battled In Court For 20 Years To Reclaim Ancestral Land

Police warn against firework watching on the freeway

KHON: … Oahu freeways turned into a parking lot last year as dozens of cars stopped to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks, police warned against stalling on the freeways this year and said they will enforce zero tolerance for those who do not obey the law. …

SA: Police step up staffing, enforcement on Oahu to usher in 2023

HNN:  Neighbor island police warn of citations, arrests for those setting off illegal fireworks

read … Police warn against firework watching on the freeway

New Red Hill health clinic on Oahu off to a rocky start

SA: … Military families had been told by the Defense Health Agency Region Indo-Pacific that they could begin booking appointments Tuesday by calling the TRICARE Nurse Advice Line and that appointments would be scheduled starting Jan. 3.

Contreras said she called the number three or four times, but after being put on hold, the call would disconnect. She estimates that she spent about an hour trying to get through before giving up for the day.

Other military families have shared similar experiences in social media groups and with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. One military spouse, who asked that she be identified by only Molly, her nickname, said she was able to make an appointment but that it took her about two hours and speaking to five or six different people.

Molly said that she had to detail her health history dating back years, well before the water contamination problems. “I’m calling literally just to make an appointment,” she said.

She was initially given an appointment for 8:30 a.m. Dec. 28. She had to explain that the Red Hill clinic didn’t launch until Jan. 3.

Molly said that she needs appointments for her four children as well, but was told that she would have to go through the laborious process for each one….

(Purpose: To assist Navy with info on plaintiffs to be used for defending against future civil suits.)

read … New Red Hill health clinic on Oahu off to a rocky start

Respiratory Viruses Not Behind Hawaii Hospitalization Spike

KITV: … The Health Care Association of Hawaii says ailments such as cancer or cardiac illness, and the expected complications that come with an aging population, have a lot to do with the current hospitalization surge.

"They are the same type of illness, accidents and conditions that people have normally, we just have more of them," Hilton Raethel of HAH told KITV4.

That's in part due to missed cancer screenings, which have been an issue since the pandemic.

"And we are also struggling still to discharge patients who may need care in a long term care facility, for example, because of a shortage of health care workers in our long term care facilities," Raethel said.

How is Hawaii dealing with that shortage? Some 600 health care workers, mostly nurses, are working in Hawaii currently from out of state….

read … Respiratory Viruses Not Behind Hawaii Hospitalization Spike

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