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Police, Fire, Courts

By Star-Bulletin Staff

Tuesday, January 9, 2001

Ex-HPD officer
accused of theft

A retired Honolulu police detective turned himself in to state sheriffs yesterday on theft charges.

James Kawakami is accused of stealing funds from the state's extradition fund, used to bring criminals back to Hawaii from the mainland.

Kawakami allegedly took non-law enforcement personnel on extradition trips using state funds, said Christopher Young, a deputy attorney general. He is also accused of conducting extraditions for Big Island police without permission from the Honolulu department. The incidents allegedly took place between October 1994 and June 2000, when he was assigned to extradition duty.

The state attorney general's office filed two complaints against Kawakami for first-degree theft of state funds exceeding $20,000 and second-degree theft of Honolulu Police Department funds exceeding $300, Young said.

Kawakami's arrest is part of an ongoing investigation into the misuse of extradition funds. The probe originated in internal investigations last year.

Kawakami was released on his own recognizance. A change of plea hearing before Judge Richard K. Perkins is set for Jan. 18 at 8:30 a.m.

Coast Guard
The Moana Kai burns at sea, about 13 miles off South Kohala.

Big Isle man rescued after fishing boat fire

A Big Island man was uninjured after abandoning his burning fishing boat about 13 miles from the South Kohala coast.

Kapono Vannatta was in a life raft when he was found yesterday. He was picked up by a Hawaii Fire Department helicopter crew and taken to the department's Kona station.

Vannatta called the Coast Guard for assistance at 10:35 a.m. He carried the boat's emergency radio beacon onto the raft, which led rescuers to him, according to the Coast Guard.

Rescue aircraft crews observed his boat, the 40-foot Moana Kai, engulfed in flames.

The Coast Guard cutter Washington headed there to assess damage and ensure the fire was put out. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The boat was valued at $150,000.

Hilo's Radio Bay shore closed temporarily

HILO -- The Hilo shoreline at Radio Bay is temporarily closed to fishing and other public access.

People who have been living on the undeveloped Keaukaha site also known as Breakwater had agreed to leave by noon Sunday under a mediated court agreement reached with the state in November.

Various state agencies and the Catholic Office of Social Ministries Care-a-Van are coordinating aid to the families and relocation to transitional housing, according to a state announcement.

The area is being fenced and structures built by the squatters are in the process of being removed.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources and the University of Hawaii-Hilo will develop a $3.5 million Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resource Center on the 12-acre oceanfront property.

The center will develop programs to support commercial aquaculture, fisheries and eco-tourism in Hawaii and the Pacific.

The university plans to leave several acres near the breakwater open for public access to fishing and picnicking, according to the state.

A parking area and portable toilets will eventually be provided.

Big Isle residents get break on electricity

HILO-- The Public Utilities Commission has granted the Hawaii Electric Light Co. a temporary rate increase, but residential electricity users will see their bills go down a trifle.

The PUC approved a 1.5 percent increase to pay for an increase in power Helco buys from Hamakua Energy Partners, formerly Encogen Hawaii, Helco announced.

For households using 500 kilowatt-hours a month, the increase means another $1.87 per month on their bill.

But buying power from Hamakua Energy allows Helco to buy less fuel oil, so the same households will see their bill go down $2.35.

The net savings will be 48 cents per month.

Because the savings depend on the price of oil, they may vary.

HFD celebrates 150th birthday Thursday

The Honolulu Fire Department will celebrate its 150th birthday Thursday with five special events.

A private ceremony will be held at 8 a.m. honoring King Kamehameha III at the Royal Mausoleum in Nuuanu Valley. The king established the fire department on Jan. 11, 1851.

Another private ceremony honoring fire chiefs and firefighters buried at Oahu Cemetery will be held there at 9 a.m.

A 10:30 a.m. procession from Iolani Palace to Honolulu Hale will be held in honor of King Kalakaua, a member of the Honolulu Fire Department, and King Kamehameha I.

Then at 11 a.m., 27 dignitaries will sign a proclamation at Honolulu Hale re-creating the signing of the Dec. 27, 1850, ordinance that established the department.

The public is invited to view a display of antiques and state-of-the art fire equipment and enjoy Hawaiian music at noon in front of the Honolulu Municipal Building.


Some events of interest


Bullet 6 p.m., Waianae Library: Public meeting to discuss a draft environmental statement regarding sea turtles.

Bullet 7 p.m., Waianae District Park: Meeting on Waianae Coast Emergency Routing Plan.

Police, Fire, Courts


By Star-Bulletin staff

Honolulu Police Department Crimestoppers

Burglars haul off safe from Pupukea Foodland

Employees coming to work at Foodland in Pupukea discovered a hole in the wall where the store safe had been yesterday morning.

Police suspect the theft of the safe and an undisclosed amount of money inside occurred sometime after employees left at around midnight the night before. The burglary was discovered at 5 a.m. Police believe the thieves entered the building by prying open a hatch on the roof.

The burglars also cut the telephone line to the building and damaged the alarm system.

The store's ATM machine also was damaged, although no money was taken from it.

Bank robbery suspect faces arraignment today

An Oahu man was to be arraigned on federal bank robbery charges in the Thursday holdup at the Ala Moana Center branch of American Savings Bank.

Darren Kaminaka, 33, turned himself in yesterday to FBI agents and was held at the Honolulu Police Station awaiting his appearance in federal court today.

He was identified with the help of information received by the Honolulu Police CrimeStoppers program.

The Thursday holdup was the first bank robbery of the year.

Jewelry robbery suspect arrested, 2 others sought

WAILEA, Maui -- Police are holding one suspect and looking for two others in connection with jewelry thefts over the weekend, they said.

Two men robbed Tiffany & Co. at the Shops at Wailea on Sunday evening, police said.

Police said the men entered with their faces covered, one carrying what appeared to be a black handgun. One of them smashed a glass case and picked up jewelry. The two then fled in a red Jeep Wrangler, police said.

In a second case, Joseph P. Prockette, 31, who has no local address, was charged with first-degree theft after he tried on two Rolex watches and two rings valued at $31,400 at the H.F. Wichman & Co. store at the Grand Wailea Resort Sunday evening and walked out of the store wearing them.

Van fells utility pole, slows Beretania traffic

Early morning commuters on South Beretania Street had to detour onto Kalakaua Avenue to get around a downed telephone pole today.

A van knocked over the pole fronting 1431 South Beretania at about 4 a.m. There apparently were no serious injuries.

Two lanes on South Beretania were closed for much of the morning.

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