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Saturday, June 3, 2000

Ewa Villages
form fraud explained

A city worker says defendant
Michael Kahapea asked her to
fill in claim forms usually
done by outside firms

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


City employee Evelyn Pang said she did not question it when her boss asked her to type in the blanks on an Ewa Villages claim sheet -- normally filled out by the company seeking relocation compensation.

The company, as it turns out, did not relocate.

"I thought it was true ... because it wouldn't be processed for payment if it wasn't," Pang said in court yesterday when shown one of the forms she filled out at the behest of then-housing official Michael Kahapea.

Kahapea is accused of masterminding a scheme that bilked the city of close to $6 million from the Ewa Villages relocation fund by authorizing payment for work not done or done at inflated costs by sometimes bogus companies created by friends and family.

Deputy Prosecutor Randal Lee, in the third day of the case, continued to portray Kahapea as the now-defunct Housing Department's expert in relocation matters.

Pang testified that Kahapea's superiors -- at the Honolulu Municipal Building on Alapai Street, far from the Bethel Street relocation office -- relied on him to deal with all moving matters.

"They left that up to Michael to do," said Pang, a city employee since 1981 and now with the Board of Water Supply. "They didn't know anything about relocation."

Pang also testified that she invested $10,000 in an investment scheme proffered by Kahapea. She said he never told them what the investments entailed and that she received only some of the money back.

She said that later, when on the way to being questioned by police, Kahapea told her to say she gave him the money as a loan.

Also yesterday, two contractors testified that they never submitted bid proposals for relocation despite city documents -- allegedly manufactured by Kahapea -- showing that they did.

Bunji Nakamura said the address and telephone number for his company are wrong on a proposal he allegedly submitted. Herman Castillejos said his name was spelled incorrectly on a bid proposal he had supposedly submitted.

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