Cruise Passenger in Hawaii Jumps Ship… Still Not Found

Statement from Grand Princess on Overboard Passenger:

Today aboard Grand Princess at approximately 1 pm ship’s time (2 pm PST) while the ship was en route to Hawaii from San Francisco, a passenger was witnessed intentionally going overboard, and this was confirmed by Closed Circuit TV.

Flickr Photo

Flickr Photo

The incident happened as the ship was approximately 650 miles northeast of Hilo, Hawaii.

Upon being notified by a witness, the ship turned around and began searching in the area where the passenger was seen going overboard. The passenger, who is a 54-year-old woman and a US citizen, has not yet been located.

We immediately notified both the U.S. Coast Guard and FBI.

Grand Princess is on day 3 of a 15-day Hawaii cruise sailing round-trip from San Francisco.

Paradise Roller Girls Close Season With Triple Header

The Paradise Roller Girls 2013 season is coming to a close, but there’s still one chance left to see some ground-pounding, shoulder smashing roller derby action before the skates come off for the year. Come watch as the Volcano Vixens, Mauna Killahz, and Hilo Bay Bruisers battle it out in the triple-header season closer next Saturday, November 16 at the Hilo Civic Auditorium.

PRG Triple Header

Doors open at 6 pm, with the first of the three 30 minute bouts scheduled to begin at 6:45. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased online at paradiserollergirls.com, at the door the day of the event, or any of the following locations: Mt. View Village Video, CD Wizard (add $1 surcharge), Hilo Town Tavern, Jungle Love, and Jeff Hunt Surfboards. Kids ages five and under are free, so bring the the whole family and be prepared to be awed. This is an event you don’t want to miss.

Although the season is over it doesn’t mean the skates will stay off for long. Paradise Roller Girls will continue to host Free Skate Fridays at the Wainaku Gym, where kids (and adults) of all skating levels can come and join the roller skating fun every Friday from 6-8 pm. And the league is still looking for new players, so if you think you have what it takes to be a Paradise Roller Girl, come down and show your stuff off at the gym or visit paradiserollergirls.com/about/join.

The PRG 2013 season wouldn’t have been a success without the help of local sponsors. A special thanks goes out to Ace Hardware at the Pahoa Marketplace and Hawaiian Realty Team Nakanishi for supporting Paradise Roller Girls and the sport of roller derby throughout Hawaii. Mahalo!

Paradise Roller Girls is a women’s flat-track roller derby league based on the Big Island of Hawaii. PRG’s mission is to promote a healthy, athletic lifestyle in their community through the alternative sport of roller derby.

 

Birth of Endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal Prompts Early Closure for Big Island Beach

North Kohala’s Keōkea Beach Park is being closed at 7:30 p.m. nightly to protect an endangered Hawaiian monk seal and its mother.

Mom and baby seal

Mom and baby seal

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, asked the Department of Parks and Recreation to implement the early closure after the new pup was born at the park.

Both NOAA and the Department of Parks and Recreation ask the public to keep their distance from the Hawaiian monk seals, which are protected under both federal and state laws. Anyone who intentionally harasses, harms or kills a Hawaiian monk seal could be fined up to $50,000 and ordered to serve a five-year prison sentence.

New permits for use of Keōkea Beach Park’s pavilions will list a 7 p.m. closing time to give patrons enough time to vacate. The park will continue to be closed at 7:30 p.m. until further notice.

The Department of Parks and Recreation apologizes for any inconvenience the shortened hours may cause and thanks park users and the general public for understanding the need to protect one of Hawaii’s most unique and loved animals.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 345-9105, or [email protected].

 

Coast Guard Searching the North Shore for Missing Surfer Kirk Passmore

The Coast Guard, Honolulu Fire Department and Ocean Safety are searching for a missing surfer near Alligator Rock, south of Waimea Bay Wednesday.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center were notified of the missing man by the Honolulu Fire Department and Ocean Safety.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew was launched from Air Station Barber’s Point at approximately 12 p.m. and the Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island was diverted at 2 p.m. to assist in search efforts.

Kirk Passmore's Facebook Profile Picture

Kirk Passmore’s Facebook Profile Picture

The surfer, Kirk Passmore of Haleiwa, was last seen wearing black board shorts and no shirt. He is described as having red hair and in his early thirties. Passmore’s surfboard was located onshore.

The Honolulu Fire Department and Ocean Safety are also searching with air, land and ocean assets. The Coast Guard will search throughout the night. Honolulu Fire Department and Ocean Safety will suspend their search and sundown and resume searching at first light.

Any sightings of Passmore should be immediately reported to local authorities or Sector Honolulu Command Center at (808) 842-2600 or on VHF channel 16.

 

Woman Overboard! Search Underway for Passenger Reported Overboard From Cruise Ship

The search is underway for a passenger reported overboard from a cruise ship approximately 750 miles northeast of Hilo.

A flare marks where the a sailor fell into the ocean when I was visiting the USS Essex.

A flare marks where the a sailor fell into the ocean when I was visiting the USS Essex.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center were notified at approximately 1 p.m. by the crew of the Grand Princess that a 30-year-old American female was overboard.

The passenger was last seen at approximately 12 p.m.

The cruise ship has changed course and is currently searching for the missing passenger. An HC-130 Hercules airplane crew is en route from Air Station Barber’s Point.

For more information, contact the 14th Coast Guard District public affairs office at (808) 535-3230.

13 National Hockey League Players Scammed for $100,000 Each on Fake Big Island Real Estate Project

An indictment was unsealed this morning in federal court in Brooklyn charging Phillip A. Kenner, a former financial adviser to several former and current National Hockey League (NHL) players, and Tommy C. Constantine, also known as Tommy C. Hormovitis, a former professional race car driver, with wire fraud and wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies in connection with schemes involving fraudulent real estate and business investments.

Tommy Constantine and some Playboy models.

Tommy Constantine and some Playboy models.

Kenner is also charged with wire fraud involving a separate scheme to buy real estate in Sag Harbor, New York.

Phillip A. Kenner

Phillip A. Kenner

The defendants were arrested earlier today in Scottsdale, Arizona, by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service and officers of the Scottsdale Police Department, and a search warrant was executed at Kenner’s residence. The defendants are scheduled to appear later today before United States Magistrate Judge Bridget S. Bade at the federal courthouse in Phoenix, Arizona, for removal proceedings to the Eastern District of New York.

The charges and arrests were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; George Venizelos, Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office; and Toni Weirauch, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Criminal Investigation, New York.

During his college years at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York, Kenner became acquainted with one of the schemes’ victims, who played hockey at RPI before being drafted by an NHL professional team. In approximately 1994, Kenner was licensed as a financial adviser and, early in his career, worked at a firm in Boston, Massachusetts, where he built a client list of several NHL players before starting his own firm in 2003. Between 2002 and 2013, Kenner advised numerous hockey players on investments in a series of allegedly fraudulent schemes that he represented would earn significant profits for the players; however, the victimized players instead suffered losses exceeding $15 million.

The Hawaii Real Estate Investment Scheme

As alleged in the indictment and other court filings by the government, Kenner fraudulently solicited at least 13 players to invest $100,000 each in a real estate development project on the Big Island of Hawaii. In connection with this scheme, Kenner also convinced several NHL players to open lines of credit, to which Kenner was given access. Unbeknownst to the players, Kenner allegedly used their investments for purposes unrelated to the development of the Hawaii real estate project. Rather than investing the money as promised, Kenner and Constantine used it to fund personal real estate purchases, pay personal expenses, and pay down other debts necessary to conceal the scheme. Beyond the NHL players, in August 2006, Kenner and Constantine also allegedly defrauded Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. of $2 million based on Kenner’s misrepresentations concerning the use of a real estate loan. In total, the victims of this scheme lost more than $13 million.

The Eufora LLC Scheme

Constantine operated Eufora LLC, a prepaid debit card business that he founded in 2002. Kenner informed the NHL players that Eufora was an up-and-coming company with great potential for growth. Between February 2008 and May 2009, players invested, at Kenner’s urging, approximately $1.4 million into Eufora. However, none of that $1.4 million was actually invested in Eufora; rather, the investment money was diverted to bank accounts that Kenner and Constantine controlled and was used to cover the costs of Kenner and Constantine’s personal mortgages, credit card bills, travel costs, jewelry, and other expenses. In December 2009, Kenner and Constantine fraudulently convinced an Eastern District of New York resident to invest another $200,000 in Eufora, the vast majority of which was later diverted to a Constantine-controlled account unrelated to Eufora. In total, investors lost more than $1.5 million as a result of the Eufora scheme.

The Global Settlement Fund Scheme

In May 2009 through February 2010, Kenner and Constantine persuaded NHL players to give approximately $4.1 million to fund an attorney’s escrow account, termed the Global Settlement Fund, or GSF, which was to be used to finance litigation related to Mexican land deals. However, only a small fraction of the players’ contributions to the GSF were used for litigation; rather, the vast majority of the money was allegedly transferred into bank accounts controlled by Constantine, and significant portions of the money were used by Kenner and Constantine for purposes unrelated to the GSF, including funding Kenner’s personal investment in a tequila company in Mexico, funding litigation in Florida related to a race car company owned by Constantine, and funding the transfer of Constantine’s Arizona home. The players lost more than $1 million as a result of this scheme.

The Sag Harbor Scheme

In a separate scheme, Kenner acquired a 25 percent interest in real property in Sag Harbor, New York, without using any of his own money. To achieve this result, Kenner took $395,000 from a player’s line of credit without that player’s knowledge or permission. Kenner also convinced another player to pay $375,000 for a 50 percent interest, when Kenner only gave him a 25 percent interest and pocketed the other half of the money. In early 2010, the investors realized Kenner had not contributed any of his own money, and they sold the property at a loss. Kenner has filed a civil lawsuit in Arizona against one of the investors in connection with the Sag Harbor property.

“As alleged, Phillip Kenner spun a web of lies, deceit, and broken promises that stretched from Hawaii to Mexico to the East End of Long Island. Kenner used his school connections to build a client list of NHL players. Once he gained their trust, he promptly betrayed it by steering them to fraudulent investment schemes that enriched himself and Constantine to the tune of millions at the players’ expense. Kenner allegedly abused his position as a trusted financial advisor and long-time friend to the victims, using fraud and outright lies concocted by Kenner and Constantine to pilfer bank accounts in order to live an extravagant lifestyle with money that belonged to and was earned by Kenner’s friends,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “We and our law enforcement partners will vigorously pursue and prosecute to the fullest extent those who seek to profit by such fraud.”Ms. Lynch expressed her grateful appreciation to the FBI and IRS for their work on the investigation and thanked the Scottsdale, Arizona Police Department for their assistances.

Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos stated, “As alleged, Kenner exploited his personal relationship with these players in pursuit of his own lucre. Player after player, time after time he and his partner, Constantine, stole from anyone they could find. This was an elaborate scheme of deception, trickery, and lies that victimized many. The FBI will continue to pursue anyone who believes using others’ savings as their personal piggy bank is acceptable behavior.

“It is not uncommon for investment fraudsters to target a specific group of victims and that group may even include the perpetrator’s own friends and acquaintances,” stated IRS Special Agent in Charge Weirauch. “The cooperation between IRS-Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the FBI should give the investing public confidence that investment fraud schemes will ultimately be uncovered and thoroughly investigated and that the scammers will be prosecuted. Nevertheless, always take care when entrusting money to others, including to investment professionals whom you already know.”

The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted the defendants face maximum sentences of 20 years.

The criminal case has been assigned to the Honorable Joseph F. Bianco, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of New York, in Central Islip, New York. The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Carrie Capwell, Demetri Jones, and Diane Leonardo.

Defendants:

Phillip A. Kenner
Age: 43
Residence: Scottsdale, Arizona

Tommy C. Constantine, a/k/a Tommy C. Hormovitis
Age: 47
Residence: Scottsdale, Arizona

 

Kings’ Shops Farmers Market Extends Shopping Hours

Starting today, Kings’ Shops announces the Wednesday Farmers Market will extend its hours to 5:00 p.m.

Kings ShopsThe market hours were originally 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and with a growing number of requests from customers, the decision was made to lengthen the hours. Tammy Touchet, Kings’ Shops Farmers Market Coordinator said, “We want to give visitors time to stop by the market before returning to their hotels or condos after a big day at the beach.”  Touchet also added, “This will also give the community the opportunity to stop in on their way home from work.”

In support of the Kings’ Shops Farmers Market, the Kings’ Shops Shopping Shuttle hours were also extended.  The convenient shuttle service normally runs from 3:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays between The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii, Hapuna Beach Prince, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and the center.   Steven Schwartz, General Manager of Kings’ Shops said, “We could see the lack of transportation options for visitors staying on the Kohala Coast without rental cars.” Mr. Schwartz hopes to help “fill this void by running the shuttle from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.”

Hilo Woman Reports Robbery From Last Week

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating a robbery in Hilo that was reported Tuesday but occurred last week.

A 43-year-old Hilo woman reported that between 9 a.m and 9:30 a.m. on Monday, November 4, she was walking with a bicycle on Mililani Street between Piʻilani Street and Hualani Street when she was approached by a man who demanded money, threatened her and fled with an undisclosed amount of cash. The victim was not injured in the encounter.

Wanted alien

Police sketch of wanted man

The suspect was described as a local male between 5-foot-10 and 5-foot-11 with a muscular build, dark brown eyes, very short black hair and a tan complexion. He was wearing surf shorts and a dirty blue tank top.

Police ask anyone with information about this incident or the identity of the person depicted in the forensic artist’s composite drawing to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line or contact Detective Grant Todd at 961-2385 or [email protected].

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

 

Gov. Abercrombie Signs Historic Marriage Equity Legislation into Law

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed into law a bill that will legalize marriage for same-sex couples in the State of Hawaii. The Governor signed Senate Bill 1 in a ceremony at the Hawaii Convention Center.

abercrombieheader

This new law recognizes marriages between individuals of the same sex and extends to same-sex couples the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities of marriage that opposite-sex couples receive.

The new law takes effect on Dec. 2, 2013. Hawaii is now the 15th state in the nation to fully embrace marriage equity.

“The legalization of marriage for same-sex couples is part of the long history of civil rights movements in the United States,” said Gov. Abercrombie. “Many people have worked tireless to make this day possible. This significant piece of legislation is a clear example of people exercising courage, determination and patient perseverance. The result advances equity in marriage and honors all First Amendment religious imperatives.”

“We have moved into a new era of Aloha for same-sex couples, who can now share in the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” said Attorney General David Louie.

“Although Hawaii was not the first to enact same-sex marriage, what shouldn’t be lost is Hawaii was the first in the Baehr v. Lewin lawsuit, that started the same-sex marriage discussion nationally,” said Sen. Clayton Hee, chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor. “I am pleased today to be able to open a new chapter in our state’s history and to join the growing list of states in conferring to all Americans equal treatment under the law.”

Gov. Abercrombie has always been a strong advocate for equal rights. In 2011, the first bill he signed into law as Governor legalized civil unions, making Hawaii the seventh state to grant such privileges to same-sex couples.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that denied federal benefits to same-sex couples who were married under state law. The court’s decision means that same-sex couples who are married in states where it is legal can take advantage of tax breaks, pension rights and other benefits available to married couples.

 

Big Island Flash Flood Watch Tonight Through Thursday

Waimanu trail closed, camping permits canceled due to Big Island flash flood watch tonight through Thursday

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), in cooperation with Hawaii County Civil Defense, is canceling all camping permits for, and closing the Waimanu trail in north Kohala today, until further notice, due to a flash flood watch for the Big Island for late tonight through Thursday afternoon.

DLNR

With long sustained rains stream levels are likely to rise, which is a safety hazard for hikers crossing streams. Do not attempt to cross a flooded stream. Remain on higher ground and wait for the stream to subside.

“We are cancelling all camping permits and the remote Waimanu trail until further notice until the trail can be inspected and deemed safe for public use,” said Roger Imoto, Division of Forestry and Wildlife administrator.