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Tuesday, April 18, 2000

Co-defendant in
Ewa Village case
will testify against
alleged ringleader

By Debra Barayuga


One of the two remaining co-defendants in the Ewa Village relocation fraud has changed her plea and will testify against fired city housing official Michael Kahapea at his trial next month.

Donna Hashimoto-Abelaye, president of Specialty Pacific Builders, a construction company, yesterday pleaded no contest to first-degree theft, money laundering and failure to report income for tax year 1995.

The state contends Kahapea had moving companies owned by or created on paper by friends and relatives bill the city for relocation work for various city projects at inflated costs or for work that was never done. The Ewa Villages relocation fraud is believed to have cost the city $5.5 million.

The charges involve allegations that Hashimoto-Abelaye's company falsely billed the city about $700,000 to $800,000 for moving work that was never done.

At bail hearings, the state contended that Hashimoto-Abelaye, as well as other co-defendants, received kickbacks of 20 percent to 30 percent; 70 percent to 80 percent allegedly went to Kahapea.

Hashimoto-Abelaye's attorney, Richard Hoke, yesterday disputed the city's figures, saying Specialty Pacific Builders did actual renovation work in connection with the Ewa Village relocation and did not get any money from the city for moving costs. His client was paid for renovation work and is still owed some money by the city, Hoke said.

Under a plea agreement, Hashimoto-Abelaye has agreed to testify "fully and truthfully" to her knowledge of the Ewa Villages fraud and to a separate investigation being conducted by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development.

Hashimoto-Abelaye will be sentenced Dec. 13 after she complies with conditions of the plea agreement and if the federal investigation is completed.

She faces a 10-year-prison term on each of the theft and money-laundering charges and one year in prison on the charge of filing a false return.

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