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Thursday, January 25, 2001

Ewa Villages defendant
Lauahi dead at 74


By Debra Barayuga

A remaining co-defendant in the Ewa Villages relocation fraud has died awaiting trial, his attorney confirmed.

Kenneth A. Lauahi, 74, an electrical contractor, died Dec. 21.

He is the fourth of nine people indicted in the scandal to die. At the heart of the scheme, which stole some $5.5 million in city relocation funds tied to the Ewa Villages revitalization, was Michael Kahapea, former housing official in charge of relocations, prosecutors say. Kahapea was convicted of fraud using friends and acquaintances to set up bogus companies that billed the city for moving work that was never done or done at inflated prices.

Norman Tam, the city's fair-housing officer and one of the key figures, died New Year's Eve 2000 of an apparent heart attack. Keith Ringler and Russell J. Williams died in 1999 of natural causes. A suspect who was being investigated died in 1997, before the first indictments in May 1998.

Lauahi was to have gone on trial on two counts of second-degree theft and second-degree forgery for allegedly overbilling the city for work he performed at Ewa Villages. He maintained his innocence.

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