POSTED: Saturday, April 18, 2009


Theft ring leader faces 30 years

The head of a copper-theft ring that the state says stole $500,000 of copper wiring from state freeway lighting systems faces up to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty yesterday. James B. Taylor Jr., known by his friends as Freeway Jimmy, pleaded guilty in Circuit Judge Karen Ahn's courtroom to conspiracy, money laundering and racketeering.

The state dropped one theft charge under a plea agreement.

Taylor faces up to 10 years for each charge, but the maximum for each count could be doubled under the state's extended sentencing laws, a spokesman for the Honolulu prosecutor's office said. Taylor will be sentenced June 17.

Ten people were charged in the copper-theft ring for stealing $563,000 in wiring from H-1 and H-2 freeway lampposts over a three-year period, ending last year.

The ring made about $145,000 by selling some of the copper, prosecutor said.

Seven defendants, including Taylor's wife, Regina Foster, have already pleaded guilty.

Two other defendants, Joseph Tano and Dean Rice, are due back in court April 27.


Freedom Alliance has scholarships

Children of U.S. service members killed or permanently disabled in a mission or training may apply for scholarships from the Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund for the 2009-10 academic year.

The fund has awarded $2.5 million to the children of U.S. service members.

Applicants must be the dependent son or daughter of a U.S. soldier, sailor, airman, Marine or guardsman who was killed or permanently disabled during an operational mission or training accident, or who is currently classified as a prisoner of war or missing in action.

They must also be a high school senior, high school graduate or registered as a full-time undergraduate student and under the age of 26.

More information is available at http://www.fascholarship.com or by calling (800) 475-6620. The application deadline is July 31.


UH regent nominees clear panel

John C. Holzman and James H.Q. Lee were approved Thursday to five-year terms on the University of Hawaii's Board of Regents by the state Senate Higher Education Committee.

Holzman is a former U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh and foreign policy advisor to the U.S. Pacific Command. Lee is a partner in the law firm of Devens Nakano Saito Lee Wong & Ching.

The nominations now go to the full Senate, which is expected to also approve the appointments. There was no opposition to the nominees, who were screened by the new Regents Candidate Advisory Council.


Annual AIDs walk is tomorrow

The Life Foundation hopes to raise more than $250,000 to support its services with its annual Honolulu AIDS Walk tomorrow.

Last year's event, which drew more than 3,000 walkers and volunteers, raised more than $2,000, and more walkers have registered this year, the foundation said.

The 3-mile walk starts at 9 a.m. at Kapiolani Park. Registration is at 8 a.m.

An estimated 3,000 Hawaii residents have HIV or AIDS, according to the foundation.


Neighbor Islands

Puunene, Maui » Gov. Lingle released $1,777,000 to improve the water system at the Hawaii Army National Guard in Puunene, Maui. Improvements are necessary because Maui County plans to provide lower water pressure to the system in the future. Construction is set to begin in October and finish in May 2010.

Ilio Point, Molokai » Coast Guard personnel rescued a fisherman yesterday whose boat overturned about a quarter-mile off Ilio Point on the northwest side of Molokai. The Coast Guard found the 52-year-old man clinging to the hull while holding a red smoke flare at about 12:07 p.m. He was hoisted aboard a rescue chopper and flown to Barbers Point. The Coast Guard was alerted to the problem when the fisherman's emergency beacon activated, but it took two satellite passes to determine the man's location using Global Positioning System technology.

Volcano, Hawaii » The Volcano Art Center received a $25,000 grant from the Hawaii Tourism Authority to continue its Volcano Native Rainforest Preservation & Education project through March. The money comes out of the authority's Natural Resources Program, which is designed to protect and preserve the beauty and uniqueness of Hawaii's natural environment.