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March 25, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:04 PM :: 1498 Views

Leaked WPATH Files Expose Medical Malpractice at Global Transgender Healthcare Authority

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics about Vacation Rentals

DHHL Broken Promises II Premiere and Panel Discussion

Hawaii Family Forum Legislative Week in Review

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted March 23, 2024

Cost of NIMBYism way too high

Grassroot Institute Bills on the Move

Illegal ‘Straw’ Donations Spotlighted By Mitsunaga Case Are Rarely Prosecuted

CB: … false-name contributions were part of an established campaign financing scheme Mitsunaga had been operating for years to sway politicians with influence over building projects.

Details of these political donations are now coming to light as Mitsunaga, several alleged accomplices and former Honolulu prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro undergo a trial on federal conspiracy charges. But the alleged straw donations themselves have not resulted in criminal charges. …

Experts say would-be prosecutions are stifled by violators’ efforts to avoid detection, a lack of resources for policing financial crimes and political reluctance to go after those who fund the campaigns of Hawaii’s most powerful politicians.

“Hawaii really has this get-along culture,” said Randal Lee, a retired county prosecutor and state court judge. “I see nothing, I hear nothing, I say nothing.”

But now, records introduced into the public record in the Kaneshiro-Mitsunaga case are making the issue hard to ignore. Documents, including testimony given under oath, have identified individuals who allegedly made illegal donations….

Gilbert Matsumoto, a Mitsunaga firm accountant, testified he received a $6,350 check from a company executive in 2017 for the purpose of making a $6,000 political contribution at Mitsunaga’s request, according to court records. The accountant kept $350 and donated the rest to the campaign of Colleen Hanabusa. …

Sam Hyun, owner of MCE International, admitted under oath that he reimbursed an employee and family members for donations to Charles Djou in 2016 and Neil Abercrombie in 2010, according to grand jury testimony cited in court records….

Even if the donations mentioned in court records are deemed to be violations, the five-year statute of limitations for criminal action has passed. But the commission could still issue fines to violators and seize the donation money from the candidates’ campaign coffers, if any remains. Those funds would then be reverted to the Hawaii election campaign fund. …

The last time straw donation charges made the news was in the early 2000s…

Executives and employees from some of the islands top firms, including SSFM and R.M. Towill, faced criminal charges and fines in the case, which made headlines for months. The case exposed how hundreds of thousands of dollars of improper donations went to candidates including Jeremy Harris, Ben Cayetano and Mufi Hannemann. …

Dennis Mitsunaga was investigated by a grand jury in that case. At the time, an engineer whom Mitsunaga had supposedly helped get government work pleaded no contest to illegal donation charges. The engineer told law enforcement authorities that Mitsunaga had solicited the contributions, the Honolulu Advertiser reported at the time. And Mitsunaga’s cousin, Wesley Segawa, pleaded no contest to donating over $60,000 to the Harris campaign through friends and family on Hawaii island….

David Van Acker, a supervising deputy attorney general in the AG’s Special Investigation and Prosecution Division, did not offer an explanation for why straw donor cases are so rare….

Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm’s office acknowledged in a statement that it hasn’t pursued a false name donation case in 20 years….

The Hawaii U.S. Attorney’s office, which prosecutes violations of federal law, was unable to point to a single prosecution it has pursued for straw donations.

A Hawaii defense contractor, Martin Kao, pleaded guilty in 2022 to federal false name donation charges, but that case was brought by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, D.C. …

Ali Silvert, a former federal public defender, said the professional incentives just aren’t there for prosecutors to pursue straw donation cases.

White-collar crime investigations can take years, during which time the prosecutor isn’t getting media attention or other professional recognition, Silvert said. Besides, he said, most campaign donations will involve Democrats, who control Hawaii’s political power centers. 

“So, you’re not making headlines and you’re making people very angry — the very people who could make you a judge or make you a big law partner one day,” he said. “The political will isn’t there.”…

read … Illegal ‘Straw’ Donations Spotlighted By Mitsunaga Case Are Rarely Prosecuted

Lahaina Fire Subpoenas: Maui County Attorneys Push Back Against AG

SA: … Maui County attorneys say they have requested subpoenas to work with investigators hired by the state to assess governments’ response to the Aug. 8 wildfires, which killed 101 people, because the investigators have failed to follow realistic and respectful practices for gathering information….

Hawaiian Electric officials have denied that the company’s downed electrical equipment ignited the wind-whipped inferno that destroyed much of Lahaina.

(CLUE: If Maui Co takes the fall, HECO is off the hook.  Everything is about saving HECO.)

In support of the attorney general’s “efforts and the efforts of its consultant FSRI,” the county officials said they delivered over 30 different productions of documents. Those documents include nearly 20,000 distinct files, including almost 8,000 video and audio files, 48,000 pages and over 118 gigabytes of data. The county has made its “personnel, directors, deputies, and employees available for over 150 technical interviews and numerous site visits into and around the affected areas.”

“The County has shown and continues to show great respect for the Department’s investigative authority in this matter,” the Maui Corporation Counsel officials said in the statement. “Of course, the County also appreciates the Department’s mutual respect for the realities faced by a significant number of County personnel, who must continue maintaining the operations of County infrastructure and systems while they also grieve, re-orient their lives, and recover physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually from the fires. To this end, subpoenas were requested for personnel testimony following multiple instances of FSRI arriving to interview County personnel, including first responders, without notice, coordination, or legal representation.”

There were “several occasions” where interviews of county first responders “occurred during work hours” and were interrupted by emergencies requiring the attention of county personnel, “only to have FSRI waiting for them upon their return,” they said….

In February the Maui Police Department released 32 recommendations and preliminary findings from an internal review of its response to the Aug. 8 high winds and wildfires.

The 98-PAGE report was based on 26 hours of recorded radio transmissions that was “meticulously reviewed and analyzed to construct an accurate timeline.”

The Maui Department of Fire and Public Safety, led by Chief Bradford Ventura, is working on a similar review while trying to determine the cause and origin of the deadly Aug. 8 fires, which burned 2,000 structures and displaced more than 8,000 people.

“The Maui County Department of Fire and Public Safety is still working with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to review data regarding the August 8th wildfires. Once all the relevant data has been reviewed, ATF will provide our department with their findings,” read a Wednesday statement from the county department. “Following that, our department will be able to put our final report together. There is not definitive timeline on this work, as we know the work is tedious and time consuming. We want to get this information out to those who have requested it; however, we want it to be correct when released.”…

read … Maui County attorneys request state subpoenas to manage fire response probe

Lapsing Date helps Mercado Kim Steer UH Construction Contracts

SA: … it’s time for the UH president to permanently receive chief procurement officer status (used to facilitate construction contracts), in parallel with several other semi-autonomous state entities; inexplicably, UH’s status faces sunset every several years unless renewed by the good graces of legislators.

“Stop with the whole lapsing date thing,” UH Chief Financial Officer Kalbert Young said Wednesday, frustrated over the perennial procurement-power uncertainty and inefficiency. “These three- to five-year increments are, like, ridiculous for government operations.”…

(CLUE: Keeping UH procurement on a short leash helps Donna Mercado Kim steer contracts.)

read … Editorial: Leave UH out of political circus

‘Social Worker’ Shot in Drug Deal Gone Bad?

SA: … According to count one, “Filimone Tavake, the defendant, aided and abetted by others known and unknown to the grand jury, did knowingly carry and use a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.”

According to count two, “Filimone Tavake, the defendant, aided and abetted by others known and unknown to the grand jury … caused the death of another person, Malakai Maumalanga, through the use of a firearm, which killing constituted murder.”

According to count three, “Filimone Tavake, the defendant, aided and abetted by others known and unknown to the grand jury, while engaged in an offense … that is conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine … did knowingly and intentionally kill and cause the intentional killing of another person, Malakai Maumalanga.”

According to count four, Tavake is accused of conspiring, with persons known and unknown to the grand jury, to distribute and possess with intent to distribute “50 grams or more of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, and salts of its isomers,” between November 2020 and March 27, 2021….

read … Man indicted in shooting of social worker

Lifelong Criminal Found Dead in Keehi Lagoon--‘accidental’

HNN: … A Honolulu Medical Examiner has released the cause of death for a man found face down on a small island last year near Keehi Lagoon.

On Sept. 30, a kayaker called 911 after discovering a 57-year-old naked in the sand on Kahakaaulana Island.

According to an autopsy report, Paul Teo drowned.

His death was ruled accidental, according to his autopsy report….

2005: Gunpoint rape of woman in front of her baby -- “Teo is considered a "major offender" with 76 prior arrests, Kapp said.  He has 33 convictions, including 12 felonies. His convictions, which go as far back as 1984, range from traffic violations to kidnapping, robbery, auto theft, drug offenses and theft. He has been revoked from parole twice, from probation once and was last convicted in February of this year for auto theft. He was sentenced to one year of probation.”

2011: Witness says victim begged for his life before shooting

read … Cause of death released for man found face down on small island near Keehi Lagoon

‘Safe Space’ draws concerns: Residents, lawmaker worried about impact of homeless camp on Downtown Hilo

HTH: … The project would be a part of Hawaii County’s Safe Space initiative, a plan to establish semi-permanent areas where homeless people can congregate without being subject to forcible removal by authorities.

It would expand the state Office on Homelessness and Housing Solutions’ kauhale initiative, which develops communal living spaces of tiny homes to provide affordable transitional housing for homeless people….

read … ‘Safe Space’ draws concerns: Residents, lawmaker worried about impact of homeless camp on area

Lahaina Fire News:

Legislative Agenda:

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