Hilo Man Pleads Guilty to Fraud and Tax Charges

Justin Wade Smith, age 32, formerly of Hilo, pled guilty on December 19, 2013, in federal court to two counts of wire fraud and one tax charge, growing out of his operation of an “advance fee” scheme.

Justin Wade Smith

Justin Wade Smith

Florence T. Nakakuni, United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii, said that, according to information presented in court, Smith engaged in a scheme to defraud involving the solicitation of money through various false representations. Smith’s false statements included telling others that (1) he would inherit money from a sizable family trust, once he paid certain fees and costs, and (2) he was a contractor for a law enforcement agency and could generate large fees through drug seizures. In court proceedings, Smith admitted asking people to “advance” money to him and promising to repay the amounts with substantial interest once he obtained money from the family trust or law enforcement agency. Smith admitted that he was not an heir to a large trust or a law enforcement contractor and that he used the money received from others to support his own lifestyle.

According to the court documents, Smith ran his scheme from 2006 through 2012 in Hawaii and elsewhere and obtained more than $1 million in cash, Western Union or MoneyGram wire transfers, and the “loading” of a prepaid debit card belonging to Smith.

During court proceedings, Smith also pled guilty to willfully failing to file a tax return for the calendar year 2012, during which he received approximately $233,995 from his wire fraud scheme. Under the plea agreement, Smith admitted failing to report total income of $1,024,196 between 2007-2012 and that the resulting tax liability was $185,386.

Smith will be sentenced on March 31, 2014, by United States District Judge J. Michael Seabright and will face maximum penalties of 20 years of imprisonment on each of the wire fraud counts and up to one year of imprisonment on the failure to file tax return charge. Smith will also be ordered to pay restitution to the victims of his wire fraud scheme and to pay up to $185,386 in back taxes, plus interest and penalties to the Internal Revenue Service.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, with the assistance of the Hawaii County Police Department. The prosecution was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Larry Tong.

Last Chance to Enter Big Island Film Festival at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai’i

With three weeks to go before submissions close for the Big Island Film Festival at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i, Executive Director Leo Sears is confident that movie lovers will be captivated with a full slate of entertaining narrative films. The final deadline to enter is February 1, by direct submission with website submission forms, or via www.WithoutABox.com.

Vincent, Mayor Kenoi and Kate at the Big Island Film Festival

Vincent Kartheiser, Mayor Kenoi and Kate McKinnon at the 2013 Big Island Film Festival

Celebrating its ninth year with the new name that comes with special partnership, the Big Island Film Festival at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i continues to deliver a unique, professional film festival experience in a welcoming island style and luxurious oceanfront resort setting.

Kristina Anapau in front of the Fairmont Orchid at Mauna Lani

True Blood’s “Maurella” Kristina Anapau was awarded a Golden Honu in 2011

“My favorite part of the festival is at the beginning,” said Sears. “When the filmmakers first arrive, especially if they haven’t been to Hawai‘i before, their feet hardly touch the ground. They’re walking around with leis, and these incredulous smiles on their faces. Then later you’ll see them watching their film in a beach chair, relaxing under the stars with a cold drink in hand, surrounded by other filmmakers who are all part of the family now. It’s a beautiful thing; it’s inspiring.”

Huffington Post blogger Jennifer Grisanti, Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi, and Actress Eloise Mumford (The River) at the 2012 Big Island Film Festival

Huffington Post blogger and NBC Story Consultant  Jennifer Grisanti, Mayor Billy Kenoi, and Actress Eloise Mumford (The River) at the 2012 Big Island Film Festival

Attended by returning visitors and independent filmmakers from around the world, as well as local residents who love movies, BIFF also hosts notable workshop leaders, such as NBC story consultant Jen Grisanti and screenwriter Ron Osborn of “Moonlighting” fame, among others. Last year’s actor honorees were Saturday Night Live’s comedic heroine Kate McKinnon, and Vincent Kartheiser of “Mad Men” who happily mingled with fans at the Fairmont’s 1960’s-themed cocktail reception and salute.

One of BIFF’s many success stories includes 2013 winner “Chasing Shakespeare” which also earned laurels in the First Glance Film Festival, SXSW, and AFI Cannes’ World Peace Initiative. Directed by Norry Niven, the film is now in distribution as “From Above,” starring Graham Greene and Danny Glover. Hawai‘i-made BIFF alumni films include wildly-popular comedy “Get A Job” by Maui filmmaker Brian Kohne, GB Hajim’s animated sci fi love story “Strange Frame,” and the poignant “Land of Eb” about South Kona’s Micronesian coffee worker community.

A celebration of narrative filmmaking, the complete BIFF experience includes not only film screenings for grown ups at The Fairmont Orchid Hawaii’s beautiful outdoor Plantation Estate, but free family films under the stars at The Shops at Mauna Lani, numerous networking and celebrity social events, feasts for foodies, screenwriting workshops and a closing night “Best of the Fest” with a top-rated Hawaiian music concert and movies chosen by the audience from Festival entries. “Golden Honu” Awards will be presented to the Best Feature and Best Short in Family, Student, Animated, Foreign, Hawai‘i and Audience Choice categories at a special Awards Brunch to honor the filmmakers and their works on Monday, May 26.

BIFF at Mauna Lani

The Big Island “Talk Story” Film Festival at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i would like to thank sponsors The Shops at Mauna Lani, County of Hawai‘i, Dept. of R&D: CPEP Grant/Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, Redeeming Light International, Inc. and others.

For detailed information visit www.BigIslandFilmFestival.com, find them on Facebook, or 808-883-0394.

Man Overboard! Search for Overboard Cruise Crewmember Underway in Pacific

The search is underway for a crewmember reported overboard from a cruise ship approximately 1,133 miles northeast of Hilo, Tuesday.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center were notified at approximately 12 a.m., regarding a 34-year-old male Filipino national who was reported overboard from the Grand Princess.

The Grand Princess

The Grand Princess

The crewmember was last seen at approximately 10:26 p.m., Monday.

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

As part of the AMVER program, the container ship Horizon Reliance is assisting in the search along with the Grand Princess’s sister ship, Star Princess.

AMVER, sponsored by the Coast Guard, is a unique, computer-based, and voluntary global ship reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to persons in distress at sea. With AMVER, rescue coordinators can identify participating ships in the area of distress and divert the best-suited ship or ships to respond.
Weather conditions on scene are winds of approximately 20 mph, seas of 7 feet and a water temperature of approximately 70 degrees.

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

3.1 Magnitude Earthquake Registered This Morning in Pahala

A 3.1 magnitude earthquake was registered in Pahala on the Big Island at 4:21 this morning:

3.1 Pahala

Kona Man Charged With 28 Offenses After Using Stolen Credit Card

A Kona man has been charged with 28 offenses after his arrest for using a stolen credit card.

Last May, a 55-year-old Kailua-Kona woman reported that her credit card had been stolen and used on several occasions without her permission at various retail locations in Kona.

Detectives from the Area II Criminal Investigations Section investigated the case and developed a suspect.

Jonathan K. Donner

Jonathan K. Donner

On Monday (January 6), police arrested 32-year-old Jonathan K. Donner of Kailua-Kona and charged him with seven counts of fraudulent use of a credit card, seven counts of identity theft, four counts of forgery and nine counts of theft. He was also charged with criminal contempt of court for an unrelated case.

His bail was set at $163,000. He was held at the Kona police cellblock pending his initial court appearance on Tuesday (January 7).

Man Dies From Injuries Sustained in One-Vehicle Crash in Hilo

A 40-year-old Hilo man died Tuesday (January 7) from injuries he sustained in a one-vehicle crash on Kinoʻole Street 180 feet north of the Kinoʻole Street/Puainako Street intersection.
The driver was identified as Tracy S. Pack, of a Hilo address.

Responding to a 1:49 a.m. call, South Hilo patrol officers determined that the driver was operating a 2006 Mercedes Benz four-door sedan and traveling south on Kinoʻole Street when he failed to negotiate a curve in the road, stuck a chain-link fence and then struck a building.

The driver was not wearing a seat belt.

He was pronounced dead at 4:28 a.m. at Hilo Medical Center.

Police believe that speed and alcohol contributed to the crash.

Traffic Enforcement Unit officers have initiated a coroner’s inquest case and have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Police ask anyone with information about this crash to call Officer Tuckloy Aurello at 961-8119.

This is the 2nd traffic fatality on Hawaiʻi Island this year compared with none at this time last year.

Big Island Police Department Identify Woman Who Died on Highway 130

Police traffic investigators have identified the 53-year-old woman who died Saturday (January 4) after being involved in a two-vehicle collision on Route 130, .2 miles south of the Route 139 intersection in Keaʻau.

HPDBadgeThe woman was identified as Anh Kim Tran of a Keaʻau address.

Local Hawaii Based Artist Chooses to Stay Local

In the world of lowbrow Tiki Art, Collectables and Souvenirs  there is no name more respected and famous than Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker.  His Big Island based company Tiki Shark Art Incorporated announced the signing of a exclusive distribution deal with Oahu based KC Hawaii.  This new arrangement will expand exposure of Tiki Shark Art to the mainstream buyers across the Hawaiian Islands and Nationwide.  A brand new line of “Souvenir Tiki” items is scheduled to hit the market as early as Spring of this year.

Tiki Shark Art’s recent high profile copyright infringement legal bout with California based internet giant Cafe Press.com has prompted the company to keep this deal local, in Hawaii.

“K C Hawaii has a great reputation as a local distributor in the Tiki-Gift Market” said Parker, “I have been approached by several company’s regarding a distribution deal…….but got a real sense of ALOHA when the owners of KC came forward” he added.

Brad "Tiki Shark" Parker signs with KC Hawaii.

Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker signs with KC Hawaii.

“We are excited and proud to be associated with Brad’s Art and believe we can carry his unique work to yet another level in distribution”, said Bobby Chang – Vice President of KC Hawaii.

About Tiki Shark Art Incorporated:  Headquartered in Kailua Kona, Tiki Shark has been quoted as “one of the fastest growing island lifestyle companies in Hawaii” by Hawaiian Style magazine. They pride themselves in the production of cutting edge items with Tiki design.  The company also exclusively designs products for surf giant Body Glove International.

About KC Hawaii – KC Hawaii is a major distributor and supplier of authentic Hawaiian souvenirs, gifts and tropical merchandise supplying to thousands of retail stores and resorts in the USA and worldwide.  With long term, in depth industry experience KC is a world class distributor of “Tiki and Hawaiiana gifts”.