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Thursday, October 19, 2000

Kahapea gets 50 years for Ewa Villages

He is also fined $365,000
for the $5.8 million theft
from city funds

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


Former city housing supervisor Michael Kahapea was sentenced by Circuit Judge Rey Graulty this morning to a maximum of 50 years in prison for his role in the Ewa Villages scandal.

Ewa Villages LogoA parole board will set the actual minimum amount of time he will spend incarcerated. Kahapea, 57, is also expected to pay $365,000 in fines. Restitution will be determined by Graulty in December.

Following eight weeks of trial, a jury found Kahapea guilty Aug. 2 of stealing $5.8 million from the Ewa Villages relocation fund. The theft, which involved payments made to bogus moving companies owned by friends and family for work never done, is considered the biggest scam in the history of the city.

In handing out the sentence, Graulty said Kahapea went about his crime “by means of a fraudulent and deceitful bid-rigging scheme.”

Kahapea was found guilty on 43 counts of theft, forgery, money-laundering, bribery, unlawful ownership of a business and failure to report income. Ten of the theft counts were merged so Graulty actually sentenced Kahapea on 33 counts.

Deputy Prosecutor Randal Lee, who has described Kahapea as the mastermind behind the scheme, had sought 100 years imprisonment.

But Donald Wilkerson, Kahapea's attorney, said putting him in jail for the rest of his life would only ensure that he would not be able to repay money that was taken. After today's sentencing, Wilkerson said he thought 10 years maximum would have been more appropriate.

Kahapea must still stand trial for similar charges involving smaller schemes tied to the sites of the West Loch project in Ewa and the bus depot on Middle Street.

He also has been indicted on theft and racketeering charges for allegedly stealing some $200,000 worth of quarters from coin-operated laundry machines at two city apartment buildings.

Federal officials are also investigating Kahapea.

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