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Newswatch
Police, Fire, Courts

By Star-Bulletin Staff

Friday, July 6, 2001


Widow's suit says Xerox work environment unsafe

Byran Uyesugi, who committed the worst mass shooting in Hawaii history, was sued yesterday by the widow of one of the seven Xerox co-workers he killed.

Xerox and three company officials were also named in the suit filed in Circuit Court on behalf of Merry Lynn Balatico and the couple's two children.

Uyesugi is serving a life sentence without parole after being convicted of first-degree murder for fatally shooting Jason Balatico, 33, and six other men Nov. 2, 1999.

The lawsuit claims Xerox supervisors knew in 1993 that Uyesugi had a potential for violence toward co-workers. It accused the company of recklessly creating an unsafe work environment for Jason Balatico.

"This was inevitable that somebody was going to get hurt," said Michael Green, Mrs. Balatico's attorney. "But (Uyesugi) was a time bomb and he was just ticking away. So, at some point in time someone is going to have to step up to the plate and be responsible."

Xerox attorney Crystal Rose said she could not comment on the lawsuit because she had not seen it. However, Rose said her review of the case had found the company and its employees had acted reasonably and appropriately.

Kauai Council committee approves ban on air horns

LIHUE >> The Kauai County Council's Park Committee last night unanimously passed a bill prohibiting the use of air horns at county parks and sent the measure on to the full Council.

An amendment was passed to allow their use by officials at events such as surfing contests where they are used to herald the beginning or end of the event.

Bill sponsor Council Chairman Ron Kouchi said he was annoyed when parents of members of a Maui youth baseball team tried to distract Kauai players with the horns at a recent baseball tournament.

Tax service owner is sentenced for fraud

A tax preparer was sentenced to six months in jail and fined $30,000 in connection with filing false state tax returns for six clients claiming Hawaii as a foreign country, authorities said.

Richard Basuel also received five years' probation at sentencing yesterday, state Tax Director Marie Okamura said.

Basuel, 59, had pleaded "no contest" to filing the false returns and overstating his clients' itemized deductions.

Tax officials said Basuel claimed the foreign earned-income credit for his clients, stating they were eligible because Hawaii is a foreign country and not part of the United States.

To claim the credit, a taxpayer must have lived in a foreign country for 330 consecutive days within a calendar year.

Basuel ran RB Tax Service with his son, Richard James Basuel Jr. Both pleaded guilty last year to failing to file excise tax returns for 1995, 1996 and 1997.

High wind delays flying wing test until tomorrow

MANA, Kauai >> The flight of the unmanned solar-powered aircraft Helios from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands has been delayed due to a strong jet stream over the islands.

NASA spokesman Pete Jacobs said the flight that had been scheduled for this morning has been postponed until tomorrow.

Helios is a flying wing that measures 8 feet by 247 feet. It was built through a partnership between NASA and AeroVironment Incorporated.

The $15 million unmanned aircraft is controlled on the ground by two pilots using desktop computers. The plane's electric motors are powered by solar cells built into the wing.

NASA hopes the flying-wing technology will lead to an aircraft that can store enough energy during the day to keep it running through the night, thus creating a perpetual flier that can be used in place of satellites for communications or imaging work.

Social Security adjusting its benefits

The Social Security Administration reported that as many as 400 Hawaii individuals who receive supplemental security income may be eligible to receive Social Security disability insurance payments.

About 130,000 low-income disability beneficiaries nationwide will be eligible for higher monthly payments, $20 or less on average. They will also be eligible for retroactive payments, from a few months to several years, averaging more than $2,000 per person.

The Social Security Administration identified the cases through its quality review process and is distributing a list to the offices servicing those customers.

However, the vast majority, 99.7 percent of the 45.5 million Social Security and 6.6 million supplemental security income beneficiaries, are receiving the correct monthly payments, according to the SSA.

Most of those affected gained work credits since they began receiving supplemental security income, the SSA said in a release.

Some cases may take up to a year to process because the cases are complex. Some cases may require medical evidence to be shown and new disability determinations to be made, the SSA release said.

In some instances, the Social Security disability benefits will cause the supplemental security income benefits to end.

The administration pays out the disability benefits to 5.3 million disabled persons.

Grant will boost student rolls at East-West Center

The number of students at the East-West Center will dramatically increase under a four-year $4.5 million grant from the Vermont-based Freeman Foundation.

The foundation gave the center money to develop a yearlong program that focuses on the Asia-Pacific region and leadership development. As many as 100 graduate students and mid-career professionals will participate. The center now has about 150 students.

"The Asia Pacific Leadership Program is intended to create a network of leaders with solid grounding in a knowledge of regional trends, challenges and issues," EWC president Charles E. Morrison said.

"With increased Asia-Pacific interdependence, businesses, governments, nongovernmental organizations and universities are increasingly looking for individuals who can operate effectively in the region as a whole."

An assessment of regional educational needs was conducted under the leadership of education director Elizabeth Buck and Geoff White, dean of student programs. Buck said the assessment confirmed the importance of the center's traditional program, providing scholarships for University of Hawaii degrees.

"But a common theme emerging in the staff's discussions with Asian and American educators is that a new educational product is needed -- short-term, flexible, multidisciplinary and regionally oriented," she said.

The one-year program is designed to be complementary to studies at home institutions.

Buck described four elements of the new program:

>> Core seminar: Covering the region's history and culture and issues such as economics and trade, resource management and environment, civic governance and political participation, the effect of communication and technology on society, and regional cooperation.

>> Group projects: Designed to encourage cross-cultural collaboration, develop leadership skills and build a sense of community.

>> Individualized course and research: Students would take other courses at UH or conduct their own field projects.

>> Field seminars and internships: Participants in groups of 20 or 25 will undertake a month of study in Asia or the U.S. mainland at the end of the second semester to learn about issues studied and discussed in the academic program.

Field study programs will be developed through the center's relationships with key universities in the region.

An experimental half-year program is planned for 25 students, starting in January.

The full-year program for up to 50 students will begin next fall.

About one-third of the students will be Americans, the others from Asia and the Pacific.

Morrison said the Freeman Foundation is the center's largest foundation supporter and the most significant force in the field of educational exchange between Asia and the United States.

Freeman also is funding the East-West Center's Consortium for Teaching About Asia and the Pacific in the schools, the Asian Studies Development Program, the Jefferson Fellowships for journalists and the New Generation Seminar, a short-term dialogue program for young leaders.


Corrections and clarifications

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin strives to make its news report fair and accurate. If you have a question or comment about news coverage, call Publisher and Editor in Chief John Flanagan at 529-4748 or email him at jflanagan@starbulletin.com.






Police, Fire, Courts

Police/Fire

By Star-Bulletin staff

Honolulu Police Department Crimestoppers


GARY T. KUBOTA / GKUBOTA@STARBULLETIN.COM
A two-story house fire in Haiku, Maui, yesterday
morning caused an estimated $200,000 in damage.



NEIGHBOR ISLANDS

Haiku home damaged by early morning fire

WAILUKU >> Fire officials are investigating the cause of a fire that did an estimated $200,000 in damage to a house in Haiku yesterday.

Assistant Fire Chief Donald Moniz said firefighters were on the scene of the fire 19 minutes after receiving the alarm at 3:44 a.m.

Moniz said no one was injured in the fire at 525 Kulike Rd. The home is owned by John Roberson.

Foiled bank robber flees on bicycle to waiting car

HILO >> A would-be bank robber fled on a bicycle after a teller at a downtown Hilo bank refused to give him money yesterday, police said.

The 6-foot, 175-pound suspect handed a note to a teller at Hawaii National Bank at 9:17 a.m. When he failed to get any money, he rode a bicycle for about a block, then got into a maroon sedan driven by someone else and left the area, police said.

The suspect wore dark glasses and a green parka, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 961-2377 or CrimeStoppers at 961-8300.

Honolulu

Man arrested second time for threats

A 44-year-old McCully man who was arrested last month for threatening his ex-girlfriend was arrested again last night for allegedly threatening her for refusing to drop the earlier case against him.

Police said the man was first arrested for threatening his ex-girlfriend on June 8. On June 22, police said he met her at a bar and tried to bribe her into dropping the charges. When she refused he threatened to kill her, police said. The man was arrested at his Kapiolani Boulevard home last night for intimidating a witness.

Incense stick left burning starts fire at housing unit

A burning incense stick started a fire in unit 2318-D of Kamehameha IV Housing in Kalihi yesterday, causing $12,000 damage.

No one was home at the time of the 9:53 a.m. fire.

WAIKIKI

Bystanders subdue man arrested in sex assault

Police arrested a 39-year-old man for terrorizing a 12-year-old girl and her mother at Ala Wai Boat Harbor Wednesday.

Police said that at 5:30 p.m. the suspect, who was operating a motorized inflatable raft, had cornered the 12-year-old victim in her paddle boat into a boat slip at the harbor.

Police said the victim fled onto the pier and reported the incident to her mother. The mother confronted the suspect, who then unzipped his pants and tried to sexually assault her, according to police.

Police said the victim's mother managed to fight off the suspect and that bystanders subdued him.

Sprinkler system douses mattress fire at hotel

A mattress fire in a Waikiki hotel yesterday afternoon was quickly brought under control with the help of the building's sprinkler system.

The fire in a fifth-floor unit of the Ohana Waikiki Surf East, at 442 Royal Hawaiian Ave., resulted in $12,000 damage, said fire Capt. Richard Soo.

The three women renting the unit were not in the room at the time of the fire, Soo said.

WINDWARD OAHU

Suspect arrested in theft of beer, chips and cash

Police arrested a 43-year-old man for stealing a case of beer, a bag of potato chips and some cash from a Kailua store this week. Police said the robbery happened Wednesday and that the suspect was arrested late yesterday afternoon.

Police said the suspect walked into the Oneawa Market at 49 Oneawa St. at 8:20 p.m. and told the worker he had a gun. Police later identified and arrested the suspect at police headquarters in Honolulu.






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