Star-Bulletin staff and wire

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Kawamoto case referred for criminal investigation

The Campaign Spending Commission has sent a nine-page list of complaints about former state Sen. Cal Kawamoto's use of campaign funds to the state attorney general for a criminal investigation. Some allegations of misuse of thousands of dollars of campaign funds are detailed, said Bob Watada, the commission's executive director. "We could have gone on for quite a few pages. We just wanted to highlight some of the things we thought were improper." The major issues involve Kawamoto's transfer of campaign assets to himself at the Waipahu Community Adult Day Health Care and Youth Day Care Center, which he heads, Watada said. They included an automobile, two Segway human transporters and about $132,000 from the campaign account, Watada said. Last year, the commission settled with Kawamoto on earlier improper expenditures and failure to report contributions, Watada said. Even after the agreement, he said, the former Waipahu Democratic senator continued to use campaign money for personal benefit. Watada said the commission wrote to Kawamoto in January and told him to freeze all of his campaign assets. Money remaining in a campaign fund after an election must be returned to donors by state law if the politician doesn't intend to run again, he pointed out. This is the first campaign spending case sent to the attorney general by the commission for a criminal investigation, Watada said.

Program aims to give the blind independence

Ten blind seniors from Oahu and the neighbor islands will participate in an enrichment training program tomorrow through Wednesday at Ho'opono, 1902 Bachelot St.

The Department of Human Services, Ho'opono Services for the Blind branch, is sponsoring what it hopes will be an annual program to give blind seniors self-confidence and independence.

They are starting with a small group but hope to find money to do it again next year, said Lynette Honjiyo, rehabilitation teacher. She said they have people on a waiting list.

Tomorrow's program will be from 3 to 8:30 p.m. at the Pagoda Hotel. Classes will be at Ho'opono and outside sites from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday's program, from 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., will include lunch and a presentation of certificates.

Training will be provided in meal preparation, traveling, shopping, accessing customer services and walking with a cane. Participants will be encouraged to share experiences and discuss issues related to blindness. For more information on the senior enrichment training or Ho'opono's "New Visions" program, call Lea Grupen, the branch's counseling section supervisor, at 586-5275.

Supreme Court allows for withdrawal of plea

The Hawaii Supreme Court has ruled that a man convicted as an accomplice in a 2000 Hawaii Kai standoff can withdraw his plea and go to trial.

Gerven Sorino was sentenced in July 2002 to 10 years in prison as an accomplice to attempted murder and firearm offenses in the five-hour standoff. His friend Peter Takeda was convicted of attempted first-degree murder for shooting off 100 rounds at police from the balcony of his Hawaii Kai apartment.

The standoff ended after a police sharpshooter injured Takeda, who later claimed he believed the police were assassins sent by his estranged wife to kill him.

Almost a year after Sorino was sentenced, he sought to withdraw his plea, arguing that the trial court failed to properly advise him that he could be deported. The trial court denied his motion, and the Intermediate Court of Appeals, in its June 29 majority opinion, agreed with the trial court.

The Supreme Court said that the trial court should have advised Sorino on the record as required by law about the consequences of his conviction or allow him to withdraw his plea.



» The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Hawaii at Manoa has received $100,000 from the Bernard Osher Foundation of San Francisco. The funds, the third grant for the same amount bestowed since 2003, will be used for the continued growth of educational programming for older residents of Honolulu.

» Leeward Community College won first place among 1,750 entries for its 2004 academic catalog in the National Council of Marketing and Public Relations Paragon Awards competition.

» Iolani School won the statewide Island Insurance Companies 2005 Hawaii Economics Challenge, sponsored by the Hawaii Council on Economic Education.

» Nissan North America Inc. donated more than $27,000 to the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund to provide higher education for automotive design and mechanical engineering students.

» John Hart, assistant dean of Hawaii Pacific University's College of Communication, has been accepted into the Fulbright Senior Specialists program. His research is in the area of myth in popular culture.

» Hilo High School's Academic Decathlon Team has won the 2005 Hawaii State Academic Decathlon Championship, its 13th consecutive state title. Team members are James Bishop, Charles Cryan, Bryson Hagerman, Jin Izawa, Hannah Moore, Kyle Power, Peter Shewmaker, Christopher Todd and Ryo Tulman. Team coaches are Kristine Hayashi and Kim Sasaki-Power.

» The University of Hawaii at Manoa's Graduate Division has awarded its first Graduate Mentoring Award to anthropology professor P. Bion Griffin.

Police, Fire, Courts


By Star-Bulletin staff

Separate crashes kill 2 Big Island men

Two Big Island men died from injuries received in two separate crashes Thursday.

Eddie White, a 65-year-old Kau man, died after his truck crossed the center line and hit a utility pole on Aloha Boulevard in the Hawaiian Ocean View Estates subdivision, police said.

White was taken to the Kau Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:45 p.m.

The victim was not wearing a seat belt, police said.

An autopsy will be performed to determine the exact cause of death.

Also on Thursday, 57-year-old Judy P. Gamiao of Pepeekeo died after a Toyota pickup truck crossed the center line and collided into the Mazda pickup truck he was driving.

The collision occurred sometime before 8:08 a.m. on the Hawaii Belt Road (Route 19) in front of the Alae Cemetery.

The 25-year-old Hilo man driving the Toyota was taken to the Hilo Medical Center in critical condition, police said.

Gamiao and his passenger, a 15-year-old boy, were taken to Hilo Medical Center, where Gamiao died later that morning, police said. The boy was treated for minor injuries and released.

Police opened a standard negligent-homicide investigation.

Blaze possibly arson, Fire Department says

Honolulu Fire Department officials suspect yesterday's 55-acre brush fire along Waianae Valley Road was intentionally set.

Fire crews worked until about 4 p.m. yesterday to extinguish the fire, which was initially reported at 6:30 a.m.

The fire edged toward homes and a dairy, but they were not in immediate danger.

The Fire Department is asking the public to report any suspicious activity or descriptions of cars and license plates, said fire Capt. Emmit Kane.

At least five fires in the area within the last few days have led fire investigators to believe one or more parties are involved, Kane said.

"It compromises the safety of the entire island," he said.

Police arrest woman who parked stolen car

Police arrested a 45-year-old woman after she allegedly parked a stolen vehicle in a no-parking zone in Waikiki on Wednesday night.

An officer said he spotted the suspect inside the vehicle at about 9:15 p.m. in front of 2815 Kalakaua Ave.

Police confirmed the vehicle was stolen and arrested the suspect for auto theft as she attempted to move the vehicle.

Body of man found in ocean identified

The Medical Examiner's Office identified Sam Akamine of Aiea as the 50-year-old fisherman who died Thursday night after he was found unconscious in waters off Kahala beach.

A fire spokesman said Akamine and two friends were shoreline fishing in an area near a public access at Hunakai Street. When his friends thought they spotted him in the water, they went into the water to look for him. One of the men swam ashore and called for help.

Fire rescue personnel discovered Akamine underwater and unconscious. He was taken to the Queen's Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday to determine the exact cause of death.

The other man was rescued from the water and was in serious condition.

Pair of men rob group of 3 at Sandy Beach

Police are looking for two suspects who allegedly robbed a group of people at the Sandy Beach parking lot early Tuesday.

The suspects, identified as local males between 20 and 25 years old, allegedly arrived at Sandy's in a vehicle at 4:25 a.m. and approached three male victims, ages 17, 22 and 24. Police said one of the suspects demanded money and struck one of the victims with a metal pipe.

Another suspect allegedly demanded another victim's wallet and punched him. The victims ran away, and the suspects then went through the victims' vehicle that was parked nearby and then allegedly smashed the window of another vehicle parked next to the victims, taking part of a CD player inside.

The suspects then drove off in the direction of Makapuu, and their vehicle, which was later reported to be stolen, was found abandoned in Waimanalo. Police said the investigation is continuing and that there were no serious injuries to any of the robbery victims.

Boys were driving stolen car, police say

Police arrested two 15-year-old boys who were allegedly driving a stolen rental car in Kailua yesterday morning.

The suspects were stopped for speeding near Kapaa Quarry Road and Kalanianaole Highway at about 12:20 a.m. Upon checking the vehicle, police discovered it had been reported stolen from Shark's Cove on Thursday.

Police arrested the driver for auto theft, theft, driving without a license and for drug possession after officers found marijuana on him.

They also arrested one of the passengers of the vehicle for auto theft and theft after he told police he had also driven the car earlier. Both suspects were released pending an investigation.

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