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Newswatch


Newswatch
Police, Fire, Courts

By Star-Bulletin Staff

Thursday, April 6, 2000


Rower runs out of food, is rescued in Pacific

A 42-year-old British long distance rower, who left San Diego in a rowboat July 15 trying to reach Australia in eight months, had to be rescued yesterday after running out of food.

A Coast Guard C-130 aircraft located Andrew Halsey 1,200 miles southeast of Hawaii after receiving his emergency distress signal. Lt. Cmdr. Mark Harrison, the C-130's commander, said the Coast Guard dropped a container of food in front of Halsey's 27-foot rowboat, but he was unable to retrieve it because he was too weak.

A Korean fishing vessel -- Dae Hwa -- has picked up both Halsey and his boat and the Coast Guard is trying to find another vessel to take him to the nearest port that has medical facilities.

Three years ago he rowed across the Atlantic Ocean in 116 days. Originally, he had food for 250 days for the 7,500-mile trip to Sydney. Halsey is epileptic.

EEOC sues Costco for firing whistleblower

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit today against Costco Wholesale for firing an employee at its Hawaii Kai store, allegedly in retaliation for complaining about sexual harassment.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Honolulu, alleges that Anela Haina, a former stock room worker, was fired after reporting sexual harassment by a co-worker.

"The EEOC investigation revealed that after Costco received Ms. Haina's complaint of sexual harassment, the company failed to conduct a thorough investigation of the charge and took no action to stop or prevent the harassment," the federal agency said in a news release. "Instead, Costco retaliated against Ms. Haina for complaining about the harassment."

A company spokesman could not be reached for comment.

The EEOC said it will seek compensation, punitive damages and injunctive relief.

Hearing scheduled on Rice vs. Cayetano

U.S. District Judge David Ezra is scheduled to hold a hearing tomorrow at 10 a.m. on the Rice. vs. Cayetano case that overturned Hawaiians-only voting in Office of Hawaiian Affairs elections.

The parties in the case have asked the court to simply issue a judgment that complies with the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision -- and nothing else.

In a stipulation filed yesterday, defendant Gov. Ben Cayetano and plaintiff Harold "Freddy" Rice asked the court to enter a judgment declaring only that "denying plaintiff (Rice) the right to vote in elections of trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs because he is not 'Hawaiian' violated the 15th amendment."

The two also agreed that other than having the state pay for all attorney's fees, Rice does not seek further relief in this case.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday reversed its ruling in the case and sent it back to the Honolulu federal court for further proceedings.

Feds appeal decision to free Laie woman

A federal prosecutor is appealing a decision to allow a Laie woman accused of running a $40-million Ponzi scheme to be freed on bail.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Butrick filed an appeal today of Magistrate Leslie Kobayashi's decision Tuesday to release Montez Salamasina Ottley on a $200,000 bond. Ottley's family plans to put up two Windward homes to raise the money. They expect to be able to finance the bond in a week or two.

Ottley is accused of being one of two leaders of the scheme that defrauded investors in Hawaii, American Samoa, Japan, the Mainland and elsewhere.





Police, Fire, Courts

Police/Fire

By Star-Bulletin staff

Honolulu Police Department Crimestoppers


By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
A man was arrested today, charged with robbing the
First Hawaiian Bank in Waipahu. Police said he presented
the teller with a demand note at 8:35 a.m. He then ran
away with an undisclosed amount of money, but was
apprehended a couple blocks away.



Tapa

Former UH dorm adviser admits to burglaries

A 21-year-old man was arrested yesterday in connection with a series of recent break-ins at a University of Hawaii dormitory.

The suspect, whom students identified as a former dorm resident adviser, admitted to committing at least six burglaries at Johnson Hall during last week's spring break, police said.

He led police to the recovery of most of the stolen items, including a laptop computer, compact discs and other electronic equipment.

Woman tries to run over Waikiki motorcycle cop

Police have opened an attempted-murder investigation after a woman reportedly tried to run over a motorcycle officer this morning in Waikiki.

Officers stopped a car for traffic violations when the driver sped off and crashed into two cars, police said. While being chased by police, the woman turned her car and drove toward an officer on a motorcycle behind the Ilikai Hotel at 3:20 a.m.

The officer managed to get out of the way and was not injured.

Police were still searching for the woman this morning.

North Shore fire causes $135,000 damage

Fire crews battled a blaze on the North Shore late last night which caused $135,000 damage.

The 11:34 p.m. fire at 59-456 Pupukea Road was reported under control at 12:04 a.m., fire officials said.

There were no injuries.

The cause is still being investigated.

Man rescued off Kauai dies at Queen's Hospital

A man injured in the waters of Kauai died at Queen's Hospital.

The man nearly drowned near Kekaha Beach Park in Kauai on Saturday, police said.

He was later airlifted to Queen's Hospital, where he died on Tuesday.

Sewer pipes roll off truck, injure oncoming driver

A lost load of sewer pipes that rolled off a truck injured a driver going in the opposite direction on Kamehameha Highway yesterday in Waiahole.

The accident stalled traffic for about four hours just after noon.

The northbound truck loaded with large sewer pipes lost its load near the Waiahole Poi Factory.

The driver of a van traveling south tried to avoid the pipes as they spilled from the truck -- but pipes smashed into the driver's side of the van, pinning the driver, 42, from Kahuku. Kaaawa firefighters freed the woman.

She was taken to Queen's Hospital where she was listed in fair condition. Her name was not released.

There were nine spilled pipes, each perhaps 18 inches in diameter and 30 feet in length, Kaneohe police said.

Tapa

The courts

Disbarred lawyer indicted on theft, forgery charges

Mark Matthew Cusmano, a disbarred lawyer who has moved to Florida, was indicted yesterday on charges that he stole automobile insurance settlements from his Hawaii clients.

Cusmano, 37, was indicted by a grand jury on four counts of first-degree theft, 10 counts of second-degree theft, 19 counts of second-degree forgery, money laundering and unlawful ownership or operation of a business.

His wife, Cristy, was indicted also on a money laundering charge.

The indictments charge that between December 1998 and August 1999 Cusmano agreed to insurance settlements as large as $50,000 without informing his clients, then forged their signatures to cash the checks.

The thefts involved nine clients, one of whom was awarded a $25,000 settlement after suffering serious head injuries in an accident.

The Hawaii Supreme Court disbarred Cusmano earlier this year for unprofessional conduct, which included converting $65,000 of a client's money for his personal use, according to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

Cusmano was admitted to the Hawaii Bar in 1993, and abandoned his practice before his disbarment.

Jury finds man guilty of police-chase charges

A man accused of dragging a police officer along a speeding car during part of a 40-minute chase from Fort DeRussy to Kaimuki was found guilty on numerous charges.

A jury yesterday returned unanimous guilty verdicts against Jose Luis Valdivia on charges of kidnapping, threatening and assaulting a police officer, resisting an order to stop, reckless driving and other charges stemming from the Nov. 3 chase.

Valdivia has been held in prison since the November incident that resulted in two car crashes and numerous injuries to officer Brad Heatherly.

After police stopped Valdivia in Waikiki, he held onto Heatherly's arm and drove about two car lengths before the officer was freed, Deputy Prosecutor Victor Bakke said.

Heatherly suffered numerous cuts, a strained back and "road burns" on his uniform, the prosecutor said.

Valdivia faces a 20-year maximum sentence on the kidnapping charge.

He is scheduled for sentencing June 5.

Teacher gets minimum 10 years for sex assault

The Hawaii Paroling Authority yesterday set 10 years as the minimum prison term that former Mililani art teacher Brian Ibaan must serve.

Ibaan was sentenced in December to 10 years in prison for fondling 13 of his 9- and 10-year-old female students at Mililani Uka and Barbers Point Elementary schools.

One girl was fondled at Ibaan's home where she went for private instruction.

Ibaan had pleaded guilty to 20 counts of third-degree sex assault on condition the prosecution recommend no more than a 10-year sentence.

Gateway officer pleads not guilty in tax case

Gateway Management Corp.'s vice president has pleaded not guilty in Circuit Court for failing to file annual general excise tax returns for Gateway Hospitality Limited Partnership from 1996 through 1998.

Conklin Nakamura, the corporation's vice president, secretary and director, made the plea on behalf of the corporation, a general partner of the tourism-related business.

Nakamura is responsible for filing the company's returns.

Trial is scheduled for the week of May 22.

Penalties for the misdemeanor shall not exceed $25,000 or imprisonment for more than one year or both, providing the corporation shall be fined not more than $100,000 for each year.

The state Tax Department will generally not initiate a criminal investigation if a delinquent taxpayer voluntarily report their failure to file or other omissions.






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