Man Identified in Hawaiian Beaches Suicide

The Hawai‘i Island Police Department reports that an autopsy was held today on the man who shot himself, ending the standoff with police in Hawaiian Beaches earlier this week.

The standoff the Hawaiʻi Island Police Department had been investigating involving a lone, barricaded man in the Hawaiian Beaches subdivision in lower Puna came to an end with the subject taking his own life just before 1 p.m., today, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. PC: Anna Pelayo

Hawai‘i Island police have identified the man as 51-year-old Keith K. Cummings of Pāhoa. The pathologist was able to confirm that he died from a single, self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. The manner of death has been determined to be suicide.

Tuesday morning, Jan. 9, 2018 at about 12:20 a.m., patrol officers responded to a report of gunshots fired at a residence on Kamanu Street in Hawaiian Beaches. Upon their arrival, officers were confronted by a male with a firearm seated within a vehicle parked in the driveway of a residence. Several more shots were fired upon the officers’ arrival, though it is unclear if any shots were directed at the officers. The occupant of the residence was able to leave home safely and is physically unharmed.

The department’s Special Response Team responded to the scene and crisis negotiators established communication with the suspect who remained in his vehicle.

Hilo Attorneys Recognized for Assisting 1,000 People in 2017

Attorneys were recognized during the Hilo Self-Help Center Recognition Awards on Monday, Jan. 8, 2018 for providing free legal information to more than 1,000 people on Hawai‘i Island who sought assistance at the Hilo Courthouse Self-Help Center in 2017. This is the most the Hilo Self-Help Center has ever served in a single year.

Forty-seven attorneys were recognized during the Hilo Self-Help Center Recognition Awards. Courtesy photo.

The Hilo Self-Help Center was established in July 2012 as part of the Hawai‘i State Judiciary’s commitment to increasing access to justice in the courts. Since opening, more than 4,900 people have been assisted by volunteer attorneys providing legal information on civil matters, such as temporary restraining orders and divorce. These services have been provided at almost no cost to the state.

“I am grateful to the attorneys who volunteer at our Self-Help Centers, assisting individuals who are representing themselves in court,” said Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald. “The dedication and commitment of these attorneys has been essential to advancing our goal of ensuring that everyone has equal access to justice in our civil courts.”

Volunteers were recognized for their service by Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, Third Circuit Chief Judge Greg Nakamura, Chief Court Administrator Lester Oshiro, and Deputy Chief Court Administrators Cheryl Salmo and Dawn West.

The individual attorneys who were honored are: Francis Alcain, Lincoln Ashida, Chris Bridges, Michael Garbarino, Kenneth Goodenow, Jo Anne Goya, Belinda Hall, Doug Halsted, Paul Hamano, Jill Hasegawa, Ray Hasegawa, Charles Heaukulani, William Heflin, Mahilani Hiatt, Ted Hong, Austin Hsu, Michael Kagami, Haaheo Kahoohalahala, Edith Kawai, Jo Kim, Nelson Kinoshita, Al Konishi, Peter Kubota, Breann Larios, Bruce Larson, Justin Lee, Dwayne Lerma, Shaunda Liu, Jacky Mena, Jeff Ng, Jennifer Ng, Michelle Oishi, Danny Patel, Melody Parker, Christopher Rothfus, Jill Razov, Joy San Buenaventura, Chris Schlueter, Steven Strauss, Andrew Son, Albert Thompson, Sylvia Wan, Molly Ward, Jennifer Wharton, Zachary Wingert, Jay Yoshimoto and Jennifer Zelko-Schlueter.

Also acknowledged was AmeriCorps Advocate Katie Kamelamela, who, through the Legal Aid Society of Hawai‘i, organizes the Self-Help Center at the Hilo Courthouse each week.

“I am pleased by the support the Hawai‘i County Bar Association and our local attorneys have given to this effort,” said Managing Attorney of the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii’s Hilo Office Laura Knudsen. “Every week, Hawai‘i Island residents use the Hilo Self-Help Center to gain information and receive procedural support in navigating the court system so that they may represent themselves in their legal affairs. With the donation of their time and expertise, today’s honorees are helping to make access to justice a reality for our Hawai‘i Island community.”

The Chief Justice and Knudsen also thanked the Hawai‘i County Bar Association, the Hawaii State Bar Association, the Legal Aid Society of Hawai‘i, and the Access to Justice Commission for their support of the Judiciary’s efforts to bring self-help services to Hawai‘i residents statewide.

Attorneys who would like to become involved with the Hilo or Kona Self-Help Centers are invited to contact the Legal Aid Society of Hawai‘i about the next volunteer attorney training. Information is available online.

For more information on the Self-Help Centers, visit the Hawai‘i State Judiciary website and click on the “Self-Help” tab near the top of the page.

IRS Advisory: Prepaid Real Property Taxes May Be Deductible in 2017 if Assessed & Paid

The Internal Revenue Service advised tax professionals and taxpayers today that pre-paying 2018 state and local real property taxes in 2017 may be tax deductible under certain circumstances.


The IRS has received a number of questions from the tax community concerning the deductibility of prepaid real property taxes. In general, whether a taxpayer is allowed a deduction for the prepayment of state or local real property taxes in 2017 depends on whether the taxpayer makes the payment in 2017 and the real property taxes are assessed prior to 2018.  A prepayment of anticipated real property taxes that have not been assessed prior to 2018 are not deductible in 2017.  State or local law determines whether and when a property tax is assessed, which is generally when the taxpayer becomes liable for the property tax imposed.

The following examples illustrate these points.

Example 1:  Assume County A assesses property tax on July 1, 2017 for the period July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018.  On July 31, 2017, County A sends notices to residents notifying them of the assessment and billing the property tax in two installments with the first installment due Sept. 30, 2017 and the second installment due Jan. 31, 2018.   Assuming taxpayer has paid the first installment in 2017, the taxpayer may choose to pay the second installment on Dec. 31, 2017, and may claim a deduction for this prepayment on the taxpayer’s 2017 return.

Example 2:  County B also assesses and bills its residents for property taxes on July 1, 2017, for the period July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018.  County B intends to make the usual assessment in July 2018 for the period July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019.  However, because county residents wish to prepay their 2018-2019 property taxes in 2017, County B has revised its computer systems to accept prepayment of property taxes for the 2018-2019 property tax year.  Taxpayers who prepay their 2018-2019 property taxes in 2017 will not be allowed to deduct the prepayment on their federal tax returns because the county will not assess the property tax for the 2018-2019 tax year until July 1, 2018.

The IRS reminds taxpayers that a number of provisions remain available this week that could affect 2017 tax bills. Time remains to make charitable donations. See IR-17-191 for more information. The deadline to make contributions for individual retirement accounts – which can be used by some taxpayers on 2017 tax returns – is the April 2018 tax deadline.

HPD Asking Public’s Assistance in Reporting Illegal Fireworks

Hawaiʻi Island police, concerned about illegal aerial fireworks, are asking for the public’s assistance in reporting information about the location of these dangerous and illegal pyrotechnic devices as well as the identity of people in possession of them.

An incident on Oʻahu just last New Year’s Day resulted in a woman’s death and her male companion being critically injured. These explosive aerial devices are extremely dangerous to anyone nearby and should only be handled by trained, licensed professionals. We have already had numerous reports of these devices being ignited on the island.

Hawaiʻi state law dictates that anyone purchasing, possessing, storing, setting off, igniting or discharging aerial devices, display fireworks or articles pyrotechnic without a valid pyrotechnic permit may face felony charges resulting in a five-year term of imprisonment if convicted.

Please remember that anyone igniting aerial pyrotechnic displays risk not only their life but also the lives of loved ones nearby and potentially neighbors as well.

Anyone having information about the location of illegal fireworks is asked to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or 911 if it is an emergency situation.

HPD Searching for Walbert LeeLoy

The Hawaii Island Police Department has reported that Walbert LeeLoy is missing. He is described as a 62 year-old Hawaiian male, 5’10”, 190 lbs, brown eyes, grey hair and has a tan complexion. He as last seen wearing a blue shirt and blue jeans.

Walbert LeeLoy

LeeLoy was last seen at his Hilo residence on Friday, December 22, 2017 at about 6:30 pm.

Police are concerned for his well being and if he is seen, ask the public to notify police on the non-emergency number 935-3311.

DOH Approves ALS as Qualifying Condition for Medical Marijuana Use

The Hawaii Department of Health has added Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) to the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis use. The decision was based on a rigorous review and analysis of written and oral testimony, a public hearing, and peer-reviewed scientific evidence.

Of the 29 states and U.S. jurisdictions that permit medical cannabis, 19 include ALS as a qualifying health condition.

Although the Hawaii Department of Health found little evidence to support the value of medical cannabis for ALS; DOH determined medical cannabis may be appropriate for patients diagnosed with ALS after receiving a comprehensive assessment by a patient’s physician or APRN and a risk-benefit discussion.

The Petition Process

In April 2017, the Department of Health opened the petition process to allow patients, physicians, and advance practice registered nurses (APRNs) to petition the department to add new debilitating medical conditions to the existing list of conditions that could benefit from the use medical cannabis.

Unlike prescription medications that undergo rigorous clinical trials for the treatment of certain health conditions before being released to consumers, medical cannabis does not have that same level of evaluation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Under Hawaii Revised Statutes, all new conditions must be thoroughly reviewed from an evidence-based perspective and be subject to a public hearing. This year, the Department of Health received two such requests and began the review process.

The other condition submitted for consideration was general anxiety disorder (GAD). The Department of Health declined this request because at this time there is inconclusive medical evidence that cannabis has beneficial use in the treatment or alleviation of symptoms of anxiety, social phobia, and social anxiety disorder (SAD), and no evidence specific to GAD.

In addition, because the prevalence of GAD, high rate of comorbidities, and dearth of scientific evidence to support the use of cannabis in the treatment of GAD, the potential for adverse outcomes is a public health concern.

Next Year’s Petition Process Deadline

Next year’s deadline to request the addition of new health conditions is Feb. 19, 2018. The petition form is available online for patients, physicians, and APRNs and must be submitted by the deadline to be included in the public hearings tentatively scheduled for May 2018. Any petitions received after Feb. 19 may be considered the following year.

Man Shot in Leilani Estates – Ongoing Hostage Situation

2:43 p.m. UPDATE:  The hostage situation has ended in the Puna District. A 33-year-old suspect has been arrested. Leilani Blvd.between Highway 130 and Hapuu Street remains closed.

Hawaiʻi Police are investigating an ongoing hostage incident in the Leilani Estates subdivision in Puna.

This morning at about 5:40 a.m., Puna District Patrol Officers responded to a call of a shooting on Nohea Street. A 25-year-old male victim was located shot several times about his body. That male victim was then transported to Hilo Medical Center where he remains in stable condition.

The suspect in this shooting was then located at a residence on Leilani Boulevard where he barricaded himself inside. This incident is currently being investigated as a hostage situation, and the Hawaiʻi Police Department Special Response Team and Crisis Negotiators are on the scene.

The suspect, in this case, is believed to be armed with a firearm.

Leilani Boulevard between Highway 130 and Hapuu Street remains closed and neighboring residents have been asked to evacuate. Police ask that members of the public avoid the area for their safety as well as that of the first responders in the area.

Hawaii Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument Regarding the Parental Rights and Responsibilities of Married Same-Sex Couples

On December 14, 2017, the State of Hawaii presented oral argument to the Hawaii Supreme Court in the case of C.C. v. D.D., arguing that same-sex spouses must be treated as the presumed parents of children born during their marriage, just as opposite-sex spouses are.

The case involves a dispute between a former married same-sex couple regarding whether C.C. is a legal parent of a child conceived using anonymous donor sperm and born to D.D. during the marriage. C.C. is asking the Hawaii Supreme Court to rule that she is not a legal parent and has no obligation to pay child support because she is not biologically related to the child. The State of Hawaii submitted a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of D.D., urging the Court to read Hawaii parentage law in a gender-neutral manner, as required by the Marriage Equality Act, and to apply the marital presumption of parentage equally to both same-sex and opposite-sex married couples.

Attorney General Doug Chin

Attorney General Doug Chin said, “The State has a strong interest in ensuring that the Marriage Equality Act is properly enforced and that both same-sex and opposite-sex married couples are treated equally, so their children have the same opportunity to receive child support.”

At oral argument, Solicitor General Clyde Wadsworth said to the Court, “All means all. The Marriage Equality Act mandates that ‘all gender-specific terminology’ in ‘all sources of law’ regarding the rights and responsibilities of spouses must be construed in a gender-neutral manner. . . . So the presumption of parentage must be construed in a gender-neutral manner and applied equally to same-sex and opposite-sex couples.”

The Court took the matter under advisement and will later issue a written opinion.

Alaska Woman Charged for Attempted Murder

Hawaiʻi Island police have charged an Alaska woman in connection with an Attempt Murder 2 investigation.

Crystal Young

On (December 15), officers were responding to a reported traffic casualty with injuries that occurred on the Old Airport Runway involving a vehicle and pedestrian. Information was received that the traffic casualty had started as a domestic dispute between an unidentified male and female. The male was struck by the female who was operating a black sedan.

After striking the male with the vehicle, the female drove to the dead end side of the park and fled on foot into the brush area where she was later located by police.

Police arrested the driver of the vehicle, 30-year-old female, Crystal Young of Anchorage Alaska, who was taken to the Kona cellblock while detectives with the Juvenile Aid Section continued the investigation.

The male, later identified as Emil Dushkin, is the boyfriend of Young, and was taken to Kona Community Hospital and then medevaced Queens Medical Center for treatment of his injuries where he remains in critical condition.

At 6:15 p.m., Saturday, (December 16), police charged Young with Attempted Murder II, Accident Involving Death or Serious Bodily Injury, Abuse of a Family/Household Member and Failure to Give Information or Render Aid. Her bail was set at $281,000. Young remains in the Kona cellblock pending her initial appearance scheduled for this afternoon, (December 18), in Kona District Court.

Anyone who may have information or witnessed this incident is asked to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Detective Brandon Mansur of the Area II Juvenile Aid Section at (808) 326-4646 or Brandon.Mansur@hawaiicounty.gov or call Lieutenant Rio Amon-Wilkins of the Juvenile Aid Section at (808) 326-4646 or Rio.Amon-Wilkins@hawaiicounty.gov.

Hawaii Supreme Court Holds Oral Argument at Castle High School

The Hawaii Supreme Court held oral argument today at Castle High School with about 200 Oahu high school students in attendance.

Students from Castle, Farrington, McKinley, and Mililani high schools and Le Jardin Academy participated in the Judiciary’s Courts in the Community outreach program. They prepared to watch the oral argument by working through a curriculum developed by the Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center and the Students for Public Outreach and Civic Education of the University of Hawaii’s William S. Richardson School of Law. Attorneys from the Hawaii State Bar Association also volunteered their time to visit classrooms to assist in preparing students for the argument.

The case heard at Castle, CC vs. DD, is a parentage case involving a former same sex married couple. The issue is whether Appellant has a legal parent/child relationship with the child born to Appellee during the marriage.

The goal of Courts in the Community is to enhance students’ understanding of the Judiciary’s role in government and its function in resolving disputes in a democratic society. The Hawaii Supreme Court convenes in schools to hear oral argument in actual cases pending before the court. Since the program’s inception in 2012, 56 schools and about 3,900 students have participated. This is the 11th oral argument under this program.

“Our Courts in the Community program enables students to discover how our judicial system operates in practice,” said Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald. “Through this experience, we hope that the students realize the judicial process is designed to get to the truth by carefully considering both sides of the case. That understanding of the rule of law is vital to the future of our democracy.

“I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the teachers, the Hawaii State Bar Association, the Hawaii State Bar Foundation, and the volunteer attorneys who helped make this happen. These invaluable partnerships are what make the program a success,” added Chief Justice Recktenwald.

The Hawaii State Bar Association and the Hawaii State Bar Foundation generously provided the students with lunches and transportation to and from their schools.

“The Hawaii State Bar Association would like to thank and congratulate the many dedicated teachers, volunteer attorneys, school and court administrators, and especially the students, who together made the Hawaii Courts in the Community Supreme Court session at Castle High School such an overwhelming success,” said Howard Luke, president-elect of the Hawaii State Bar Association. “The attorneys arguing each side of the many unique, challenging issues presented in this case set the stage for a very spirited question-and-answer session following the Court proceedings.

“It was especially encouraging to see how well prepared and thoroughly engaged the students were, as demonstrated by their very thoughtful, relevant questions to the justices. We are grateful for this wonderful opportunity made possible by our Hawaii Supreme Court,” added Luke.

Oral argument was followed by two separate question-and-answer sessions for the students – one with the attorneys and another with justices.

Community Tips Lead to Execution of Narcotics Search Warrant

The Area II Special Enforcement Unit (SEU) concluded a month-long narcotics-related and community nuisance-type investigation which stemmed from numerous community complaints of suspected narcotic use and narcotics-related activities occurring at a Kalaoa residence.

On Monday (December 11) afternoon at 2:15 p.m., SEU, assisted by the Area II Vice Section, executed a narcotics search warrant at a residence located in the 73-4500 block of Iki Place. During the search, officers located and recovered approximately 3.9 grams of a black tar-like substance (suspected heroin), three syringes containing a brownish-colored liquid (suspected heroin), 0.4 grams of a crystalline substance (suspected crystal methamphetamine), numerous drug paraphernalia items associated with heroin and methamphetamine use, and $870.00 in cash which was seized for forfeiture. At the scene, officers also located and arrested 32-year-old Nicholas Catlett, of Kailua-Kona, and residents 28-year-old Dylan Brehaut, and 30-year-old Ashley Safa, for suspicion of Promoting Dangerous Drugs in the Third Degree. They were transported to the Kealakehe Police Station as officers continued their investigation.

Upon conferring with the Prosecutor’s Office, on Monday evening at 6:30 p.m., Ashley Safa was charged with three counts of Promoting Dangerous Drugs in the Third Degree and one count of Drug Paraphernalia. Her total bail was set at $30,250.00.

Dylan Brehaut was released pending further investigation for the narcotics offenses, however he was charged for an outstanding bench warrant with bail set at $10,000.00.

Safa and Brehaut remained in custody at the Kealakehe Police Station pending their initial court appearance at Kona District Court this morning.

Upon conferring with the Prosecutor’s Office, Nicholas Catlett was released pending further investigation.

The Hawaiʻi Police Department would like to thank community members for the numerous tips received in this investigation. In addition, the community is encouraged to remain aware of suspicious activities occurring within their neighborhood and to report any suspicious activity to the police non-emergency number at (808)935-3311.

Puna Man Charged in Firearms Incident

Hawaiʻi Island police have charged a 20-year-old Puna man in connection with a terroristic threatening incident involving a firearm.

Eric Wilson. HPD photo

At 5:45 p.m. Saturday afternoon (December 9), officers were called to an address on 37th Avenue in the Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision.  Police determined that following an argument, a male suspect pointed a handgun at an 18 year-old man at the residence.  The suspect, 20-year-old Eric Wilson Jr., of Puna, fled from the scene in a vehicle after the confrontation.  No physical injuries were reported.

At 8:50 a.m. Monday morning (December 11), an officer assigned to the department’s Special Enforcement Unit arrested Wilson at the Hilo courthouse without incident.  He was taken to the Hilo cellblock while investigators continued the investigation.  About an hour later, patrol officers located the suspect’s vehicle at a Ala Heiau Road residence in Keaʻau.    A search warrant was later served on the suspect’s vehicle where a handgun and ammunition was recovered.

At 11:30 a.m. Tuesday (December 12), police charged Wilson with one count each of first-degree terroristic threatening, ownership (of a firearm) prohibited, possessing a loaded firearm on a highway, place to keep a pistol, and place to keep -ammunition.  Wilson remains in police custody at the Hilo cellblock in lieu of $610,000 bail pending his initial Court appearance scheduled for Wednesday afternoon (December 13) in South Hilo District Court.

Anyone who may have witnessed this incident or have any information about it is asked to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Detective Aaron Carvalho of the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at (808) 961-2272 or Aaron.Carvalho@hawaiicounty.gov.

Pacific Paradise Finally Removed From Waikiki Reef

The grounded Pacific Paradise was successfully removed from the reef off Kaimana Beach Thursday.

Following removal from the beach, crews prepare the Pacific Paradise further about a mile offshore from Oahu, Dec. 7, 2017. A combination of salvage and response experts worked over a 58-day period to repair, refloat and remove the vessel from the beach. The cause of the original grounding remains under investigation. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy Todd Duke/Released)

The State of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources will assume the lead as the coordinating agency to work with the owner of the Pacific Paradise to conduct cleanup of the wreck site as the pollution threat has been removed. The state will assess any damage done to the reef and facilitate the next step in mitigating the impacts and rehabilitating the reef.

“This response has been long and challenging, but the professionalism and expertise of the crews that came together was nothing short of impressive”, said Capt. Michael Long, captain of the port and commander U.S. Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. We appreciate the patience and support of the public, the diligence and persistence of our partners and are grateful the Pacific Paradise was safely removed.”

Suzanne Case, chair of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, expressed her sincere appreciation to everyone involved for their patience, persistence and care in getting the Pacific Paradise removed from the reef successfully and safely. Case said, “These efforts are complex, and with the addition of unpredictable ocean conditions, the position, size and weight of the ship on the reef, and its proximity to one of Hawaii’s most populated beach areas, it was important that we all worked together to remove the ship while minimizing risk to people and to the environment. DLNR is conducting a full assessment of the reef and any associated natural resource damage that occurred during the event.”

Response crews refloated the Pacific Paradise Wednesday and moved the vessel about 600 feet into the sandy channel before losing the tide. Crews conducted additional work to the vessel late in the day to prepare for the refloat and tow Thursday. That effort was ultimately successful in fully removing the vessel at 7:15 a.m. on the high tide using the tug Pi’ilani.

Just over a mile offshore the tow was switched over to the tug American Contender for the transit out to the EPA-approved disposal site 13 miles south of Oahu in federal waters. The responders are now in the process of sinking the Pacific Paradise in nearly 1,800 feet of water, which may take several hours.

During the operation to refloat and remove the grounded vessel minimal pollution entered the water.
The vessel originally grounded just before midnight Oct. 10. In the time since, local and mainland experts have worked diligently to remove the vessel as quickly and safely as possible with the least amount of impact to the marine environment. Responders spent the past weeks preparing and patching the hull, removing excess weight by pumping water and removing heavy spare parts including sheet metal and the rudder and adding additional buoyancy. The challenging environment and weather did slow or delay some work.

The Coast Guard is continuing the investigation into the cause of the grounding. That process will likely take several months. Once complete those findings will be released to the public and action will be taken to levee any fines or punitive actions that may be deemed appropriate.

DUI Checkpoints in Place for Thanksgiving Weekend

DUI checkpoints to increase during holiday season. BIN photo.

As part of a national and statewide campaign called “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” officers will conduct islandwide DUI checkpoints in anticipation of the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend.

Sgt. Robert P. Pauole, head of the Traffic Services Section, said impaired driving has been responsible for 11 of the 29 fatalities so far this year.

“Always remember to have a designated, sober and licensed driver before you start drinking,”Sgt. Pauole said. “If you can’t find one, don’t take a chance—call Uber or take a taxi.”

Sgt. Pauole also urges motorists to wear seat belts during every trip to prevent injury or death in the event of an accident.

Thanksgiving weekend is one of the busiest travel times of the year, which means it has the potential for more crashes.

Buckling up provides the best defense against injury or death in a crash, Pauole said. “The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that risk of fatal injury goes down by 45 percent for front-seat occupants of passenger cars who wear seat belts and by 60 percent for light-truck occupants who wear them,” he said. “Survive your Thanksgiving drive. Buckle up and drive sober.”

Beware of Scam Artist Posing as BBB Employee

A scam artist has been reported posing as a member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Hawaiʻi.

The BBB received a scam report on Oct. 26 and 27 from a woman who received a call from a person claiming to be a BBB employee offering her the opportunity to lower her credit card interest rate.

BBB’s do not offer lower interest rates. This is a new twist on the common “lower your interest rate” scam.

The woman who received these calls reported that the calls came from a local number, (808) 971-4179.

Upon answering the call, the woman heard a prerecorded message that stated the call was from the BBB and prompted her to press a number.

After she did this, a man on the phone introduced himself as a BBB employee. After giving the woman some information on BBB, he asked the woman to supply him with all of her credit card information to get her a lower interest rate.

The Federal Trade Commission offers these tips to avoid falling victim to this sort of scam:

  • Don’t give out your credit card information. Once a scammer has your data, they can charge your credit card for their own purchases or sell the information to other scammers.
  • Don’t share other personal financial or sensitive information like your bank account or Social Security numbers. Scam artists often ask for this information during an unsolicited sales pitch, and then use it to commit other frauds against you.
  • Be skeptical of any unsolicited sales calls that are prerecorded, especially if your phone number is on the National Do Not Call Registry. You shouldn’t get recorded sales pitches unless you have specifically agreed to accept such calls, with a few exceptions.

If you receive a call such as this, be sure not to give out any personal information and report the incident immediately. Scams such as this can be reported using the BBB Scam Tracker.

Consumers can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

Governor Ige Appoints Three First Circuit Court (Island of O‘ahu) Judges

Gov. David Ige today announced three appointments to the First Circuit Court (Island of Oʻahu) as follows:

Rowena A. Somerville – 50, Attorney, Hearings Officer, Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, is appointed to the First Circuit Court (Island of Oʻahu), to fill the vacancy left when former Circuit Judge Derrick H. M. Chan was elevated to the position of Associate Judge for the Intermediate Court of Appeals in April 2017.

Somerville has been an attorney in Hawaiʻi for over twenty years, dedicating her entire legal career to public service. She is currently an Administrative Hearings Officer at the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs and has presided over one hundred special education due process hearings. She previously served as a Deputy Attorney General in the Land and Transportation Division and as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the City and County of Honolulu. She began her career as a law clerk at the Hawaiʻi Civil Rights Commission and followed that by a clerkship at the District Court of the First Circuit.

Somerville earned her law degree from the University of Hawaiʻi, William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaii State Bar in 1996.

“I am deeply honored and humbled that Gov. Ige has nominated me to serve as a First Circuit Court judge. It has been a privilege to serve the community for over twenty years as an attorney, and I am looking forward to the confirmation process,” said Somerville.

Matthew J. Viola – 55, Judge, District/Family Court of the First Circuit, is appointed to the First Circuit Court (Island of Oʻahu), to fill the vacancy created by the vacancy left by the retirement of former Circuit Judge Dexter D. Del Rosario in December 2016.

Judge Viola is currently the lead judge of the domestic (divorce) division of the Family Court, First Circuit Court of the State of Hawaiʻi. Since his appointment as a family court judge in August 2010, he has served as the presiding judge of the Juvenile Drug Court of the First Circuit. Prior to his appointment as a family court judge, he was in private practice, primarily handling employment law and general civil litigation cases. While working as a sole practitioner, he served as a part-time family court per diem judge since 2002 and as a contract attorney for the City and County of Honolulu Ethics Commission since 2003. From 1995 to 2002, he was an attorney with Simons, Wilson & Viola.

Viola attended Williams College, where he received his B.A. degree, magna cum laude. After attending Stanford Law School, where he graduated with distinction in 1991, he worked as an associate attorney with a San Francisco law firm for two years before moving to Hawaiʻi and clerking for Hawaiʻi Supreme Court Justice Paula Nakayama from 1993 to 1995.

“I am honored and humbled by Gov. Ige’s nomination. I look forward to the opportunity to serve the people of the State of Hawaiʻi,” said Viola.

Paul B. K. Wong – 49, Judge, District Court of the First Circuit, is appointed to the First Circuit Court (Island of Oʻahu), to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of former Circuit Judge Karl K. Sakamoto in December 2016.

Judge Wong was appointed to the District Court of the First Circuit on May 29, 2012. Prior to his appointment, he was a Partner with the law firm of McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon, LLP, and a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the City and County of Honolulu.

Wong is a graduate of the University of Southern California and Boston College Law School.

“I am deeply grateful to Gov. Ige, and his administration for the privilege and trust to serve as a Circuit Court Judge. I look forward to discussing my qualifications with the Senate, and if confirmed, will commit all my energies and skills to be deserving of the honor,” said Wong.

“All three of these appointees understand that legal issues have a real and lasting impact on our people and in our communities. They are thoughtful, innovative and deeply committed to equitable problem solving. I know they will exercise patience and dedicate the time needed to assure fair administration of justice,” said Gov. Ige.

The process used to select these appointees is the same process used in prior selections and will be used whenever Gov. Ige makes judicial appointments. Gov. Ige personally interviewed each candidate, received input from retired Hawai‘i State Supreme Court Associate Justice James Duffy, who reviewed the qualifications of the nominees and solicited feedback on each from the law community, and reviewed testimony submitted by the public. The Senate confirmation also allows opportunities for the general public to weigh in.

All three appointments are subject to Senate confirmation.

Former Charter School Principal Charged with Theft

Attorney General Doug Chin announced that Laara Allbrett was charged yesterday by way of felony information with four counts of Theft in the Second Degree, a class C felony punishable by up to five years jail and/or a $10,000 fine.

Allbrett, 64, is the former principal of the Halau Lokahi public charter school, a Native Hawaiian-focused charter school whose recurring financial difficulties led to the revocation of its charter by the State Public Charter School Commission on March 30, 2015.

The felony information alleges that Allbrett committed theft by deception during her tenure as the principal of Halau Lokahi. A felony information is merely an allegation of criminal wrongdoing against Allbrett, and she is presumed innocent until found guilty of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt by a judge or jury.

A copy of the charging document is attached.

Click to read full document

Aid for Tenants, Landlords Program Expands to Kauai

Following the success of a program that helps landlords to get paid and keep tenants from being evicted on Oahu and in Maui County, Steps to Avoid Eviction is now available on Kauai.

The STAE program guides homeowners and tenants to resolve disputes without going to court. Its goals are to teach renters how to avoid evictions and to ensure that landlords can consistently collect rental income that is due.

Fifth Circuit District Court Judge Michael Soong

“When landlord-tenant cases enter the judicial system, it is often too late to amicably resolve their issues,” said Fifth Circuit District Court Judge Michael Soong. “We hope that by providing advance information and available resources, all parties may address their problems before someone files a lawsuit.”

The potential impact for Kauai is strong. A recent U.S. Census Bureau study indicated that 25 percent of the island’s 30,238 total housing units are occupied by renters. Furthermore, the population of 71,735 residents is growing an average of three people daily, the bureau reported.

“I want to thank the participating agencies, and attorneys Craig De Costa, Michelle Premeaux, Patrick Childs, and Linda Vass for assisting with the program and brochure,” Soong added.

The agencies providing strong support for STAE are Kauai Self Help Center; Legal Aid Society; Kauai Economic Opportunity Mediation Services; County of Kauai Housing Agency; Mental Health Kokua; Catholic Charities; Women in Need; Family Life Center Kauai; and The Salvation Army.

“I deeply appreciate the hard work of the attorneys, agencies, and businesses in bringing this important early intervention program to the Garden Island, and thank Judge Soong for his leadership,” said Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald.

The STAE brochure is available through numerous Kauai agencies, including those listed above, and online. A copy of the brochure is attached.

Program information: http://www.courts.state.hi.us/special_projects/stae
Kauai brochure: http://www.courts.state.hi.us/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Kauai_STAE_brochure_FINAL.pdf

33 State Attorneys General Urge Congress to Evaluate ‘Bump Stocks’

Expressing extreme concern about the role “bump stocks” played in the recent Las Vegas tragedy, Attorney General Doug Chin yesterday joined a bipartisan letter to Congressional leaders urging them to close a loophole in current federal gun laws.

Click to read letter

The bipartisan letter, co-sponsored by Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, includes support from a broad group of attorneys general from U.S. states and territories. The letter notes that bump stock devices – a plastic or metal piece attached to a firearm’s stock designed to increase the ability to fire like a fully automatic weapon – may be used to evade the machinegun laws that are currently in place.

It has been widely reported that the Las Vegas gunman, Stephen Paddock, modified otherwise lawful semi-automatic rifles with “bump stocks” to kill 58 innocent people and injure hundreds more. The attorneys general urge Congress to evaluate whether bump stocks should be regulated like machineguns in order to protect residents from the dangers posed by unrestricted fully automatic weapons.

Since 1986, when Congress enacted the Firearm Owners Protection Act to amend the Gun Control Act of 1968, fully automatic weapons and “machineguns” have been restricted, making it unlawful for civilians to possess a machinegun unless the firearm was acquired prior to the Act’s effective date.

According to the letter, bump stocks can “mimic fully automatic machinegun fire and therefore lead to disastrous consequences in the wrong hands.” The attorneys general also state that Congress “should carefully consider whether bump stocks have created a loophole in the machinegun laws” when considering any news laws.

Joining the letter are the attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

A copy of the letter is attached.

Inmate Indicted for Assault of Adult Corrections Office at Women’s Correctional Facility

Attorney General Doug Chin announced that inmate Alex Parks was charged today with assault in the second degree and harassment against adult corrections officers at the Women’s Community Correctional Center.

Click to read

Assault in the second degree is a class C felony and carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a $10,000.00 fine. Harassment is a petty-misdemeanor and carries a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail and a $1,000.00 fine.

Alex Parks is presumed innocent unless and until she is found guilty of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
A copy of the charging document is attached.