Monday, June 5, 2023
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Thursday, July 30, 2020
5 Years for Embezzling $600K from Hawaiian Charter School
By News Release @ 2:48 AM :: 2841 Views :: Hawaii County , Education K-12

Financial officer of Hawaiian charter school sentenced to imprisonment for embezzling over $600,000 from Big Island charter school

News Release from US DoJ, July 29, 2020

HONOLULU, Hawaii – Kelaukila Estabilio, 40, of Hilo, Hawaii, was sentenced today in federal court by U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson to 60 months imprisonment for embezzling funds from the Hawaiian charter school where she worked.

U.S. Attorney Kenji M. Price for the District of Hawaii announced that according to court documents and information presented in court, from 2006 through January 2019, Estabilio worked for the Kua O Ka Lā Public Charter School, formerly located in Pahoa, Hawaii on the Big Island. The charter school also had a non-profit financial support entity, Ho’oulu Lahui. Estabilio was the financial officer of the charter school and responsible for managing the books and records.

For over six years, from at least 2012 through November 2018, Estabilio misused the charter school’s funds to pay for her and her family’s personal credit card bills totaling around at least $628,835. Estabilio used the charter school’s funds to pay off personal bills for extensive interisland and mainland travel; personal care, such as nail salons; pet veterinary care; retail purchases, such as stores like Victoria’s Secret and Zales; entertainment, such as Bruno Mars tickets, MMA, Netflix, and iTunes; living expenses; and restaurant bills. For years, Estabilio falsified the books and records of the charter school to conceal her embezzlement activities from both her subordinates and supervisors.

The charter school’s campus was destroyed by lava from the Kilauea eruption in or around July 2018. Over approximately five months, between July and November 2018, when her fraud was uncovered, Estabilio stole more than $90,000 from the charter school and Ho’oulu Lahui. In sentencing Estabilio, the District Judge imposed a sentence above the range suggested by the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. At the sentencing hearing, the District Judge characterized Estabilio’s conduct as “reprehensible,” and driven by “greed” and a sense of “entitlement.” The District Judge pointed out that Estabilio’s scheme was revealed ultimately because of the careful attention to detail by staff at the charter school; not a change of heart by Estabilio. The District Judge also stated that Estabilio took advantage of her position of trust within the charter school and her theft impacted the charter school movement as a whole. Because of Estabilio’s “selfish” actions, the District Judge noted that the money the charter school needed for the children it served and to rebuild was not there when it needed it the most.

“This investigation and prosecution brought to light the despicable conduct of Kua O Ka Lā Public Charter School’s former financial officer. While charter schools and other educational institutions work to educate our keiki, unfortunately there are those like Estabilio who undermine those efforts to line their own pockets. As a result of this prosecution, Estabilio will have five years in federal prison to reflect upon the damage her actions caused to the native Hawaiian community, and the plight of those whose lives are so dramatically impacted by her shameful conduct,” said U.S. Attorney Price.

“Today’s sentencing sends a very simple message that these types of financial frauds will not go unpunished—they will be investigated to the fullest extent of the law,” said Trevor Fenwick, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service Honolulu Field Office.

In addition to a term of imprisonment, the Court also imposed three years of supervised release, restitution, and criminal forfeiture.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service with the assistance of the State of Hawaii Attorney General’s Office. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebecca Perlmutter.


TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center


Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Back da Blue Hawaii

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii


Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

School Choice in Hawaii

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii