By Star-Bulletin Staff

Friday, March 12, 1999

Felon testifies in
drug dealer killing

By Lori Tighe, Star-Bulletin

A convicted felon, in exchange for freedom, testified his friend John Joseph Griffiths was to get $10,000 for killing a drug kingpin execution style 10 years ago.

The state's key witness, Michael Santana, was brought in by bodyguards. He said Griffiths planned to kill cocaine dealer Eric Kamanu, a runner-up in the Mr. Hawaiian Islands bodybuilding competition.

Griffiths and his drug cronies wanted their share of Kamanu's money and power, argued Deputy Prosecutor Darrell Wong.

Griffiths is the last of four men to face charges of shooting the bodybuilder in the back of the head and through the eyes, leaving him dead in Waimanalo bushes. He was found Aug. 7, 1989.

Charges against the other three men were dismissed because the statute of limitations for murder conspiracy had expired.

Santana, 30, on probation, described the hierarchy of their drug ring: Kamanu was the lead source of cocaine who sold to a middleman who sold to Santana and Griffiths, who sold to people on the street.

Griffiths and Santana wanted to cut out the middleman and get more money straight from Kamanu, but Kamanu refused. Then Kamanu sold them a bad batch of cocaine, increasing tensions.

Santana was arrested at Honolulu Airport in 1989 for bringing in nearly five pounds of cocaine while on probation and received a 20-year sentence.

The middleman paged Santana, who was out on bail, to meet him at Flamingo Restaurant in Kaneohe. He told Santana that it was Kamanu who "squealed" to the police and double-crossed him.

"He asked me if I wanted Eric killed and if I wanted to do it," Santana said. "I said I just got in trouble, but I would go along with it. He said Joe (Griffiths) would do it, but I could be there for satisfaction."

Santana and Griffiths headed to Waikiki in search of a gun.

Griffiths "mentioned some money he would be compensated for killing Eric," said Santana, who later said it was $10,000.

He said he heard on TV news that Kamanu was found dead.

In 1993, Circuit Judge Wilfred Watanabe dismissed Griffiths' indictment for several problems, including allegations of extortion by a state witness.

Griffiths was reindicted in 1997 by a grand jury for second-degree murder for his role in Kamanu's murder. Griffiths faces life in prison with parole if convicted as charged.

Santana also cut his 20-year sentence short in 1993 in exchange for testifying against Griffiths.

Bogus water treatment ends in fraud conviction

A federal court jury has convicted John Orsini, 49, and Edward Jorgenson, 47, on 40 counts of mail fraud after an 11-day trial.

Orsini and Jorgenson own and operate Industrial Technology, an environmental company that treats and disposes industrial waste-water contaminated with oil and other pollutants.

Steven Alm, U.S. attorney for Hawaii, said evidence indicated they told customers, which included the U.S. Army and newspaper publishers, that they would use a new waste-water treatment plant to clean the contaminated waste water to near drinking water standards.

Instead, when the treatment plant failed to work, Orsini and Jorgenson shut the plant down and secretly dumped untreated contaminated water on their property late at night, the U.S. attorney's office said.

Corsini and Jorgenson each face a total maximum term of five years and up to $250,000 in fines on each of the 40 counts when they are sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge David Ezra on June 28.

Pro surfer John Gomes sued by assault victim

Surfer Erich Bohne yesterday filed a personal injury lawsuit against professional surfer John Gomes, who was convicted last year of felony assault for commandeering his surfboard and breaking his nose.

The suit alleges that Gomes threatened the lives of Bohne and his family if he reported the matter to the police.

Bohne also said his nose was permanently damaged.

Hurry down to the zoo and see frogs being born

Honolulu Zoo visitors in the next 24 to 36 hours may see frogs born in an unusual and rarely visible reproductive process.

A female Surinam Toad (Pipa pipa) in the Zoo's "Herpetarium" deposited a clutch of eggs underwater on her back a few nights ago, the zoo reported.

Keepers noticed the eggs Wednesday stuck to newly spongy skin on her back.

The eggs will sink, and the skin will cover them in a few days. About 70 to 120 days later, baby frogs will emerge from the mother's back.

Sunday parade might cause traffic jams

Motorists are advised of possible traffic jams in Waikiki because of the Honolulu Festivals Parade on Sunday.

The parade will start at 5:30 p.m. at Kalakaua Avenue and Saratoga Road, traveling along Kalakaua to the Waikiki Shell parking lot. It is expected to end at 8:30 p.m.

See expanded coverage in today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
See our [Search] [Info] section for subscription information.

Police, Fire


By Star-Bulletin staff

Two escaped inmates caught along Ala Moana

Two inmates at Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility were arrested yesterday after they allegedly scammed their way out of the youth center.

The boys, 16 and 17, claimed that they were suicidal and were both sent to Queen's Hospital for observation, police said.

While at the treatment center, they reportedly distracted staff members while opening a window they would eventually use to escape.

The boys were arrested yesterday along Ala Moana after a hospital employee saw them.

Home catches fire again after first one put out

Investigators have determined that a second fire at a Kalihi home Wednesday was started by intense heated air trapped inside the attic.

Fire crews extinguished the blaze at 2223 Keha Place on Wednesday after an unsupervised child playing with a lighter started a fire at about 4:13 p.m.

After crews left, another fire started at the home at 8:54 p.m.

Police seek thieves videotaped in the act

Police are looking for two young men who stole a backpack containing $200 worth of items from a vacationing family from California.

The theft occurred Feb. 6 at 5:30 p.m. at Waikiki Beach between the banyan tree and Kapahulu wall.

The family has provided videotape of the suspects to police.

One suspect is about 5 feet 4 inches tall with a medium build. The second suspect is about 5 feet tall. Anyone with information should call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300.

CrimeStoppers, meanwhile, announced the arrest of Ronald Moreno based on information received from a call.

Moreno, convicted of escape and rape, was wanted on a no-bail parole revocation warrant.

Ocean View resident killed in two-car crash

KAILUA-KONA -- An 88-year-old woman died yesterday in a two-car accident on Palani Road, police said.

The woman, Viola Withenshaw of Ocean View, was driving downhill when her car turned in front of another driven by Margaret Park, 35, of Kailua-Kona.

HPD's Kornegay, Owens promoted to majors

Stephen Kornegay and Jeffrey Owens have been promoted to rank of major by Honolulu police chief Lee Donohue.

Kornegay succeeds new Assistant Chief Stephen Watarai as commander of the Kalihi patrol district while Owens replaces retired Marc Greenwall as head of Central Receiving.

Other promotions:

BulletCaptain: Bart Huber (Juvenile Services) and Mark Nakagawa (Central Receiving).

BulletLieutenant: Frank Pugliese (Records & Identification) and Michael Johnson (Central Receiving).

BulletSergeant: Stephen Logan and Randolph Luna.

BulletMetropolitan Officer II (corporal): Michael Lucas-Medeiros.

See expanded coverage in today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
See our [Search] [Info] section for subscription information.

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