Friday, May 25, 2001

Man admits role
in police auto fraud

By Rod Antone
Star Bulletin

A local auto parts shop manager surrendered to Honolulu police yesterday after police said he confessed to being involved in alleged fraud in the police vehicle maintenance section.

The case involves two former maintenance supervisors who have been charged with purchasing auto parts for police vehicles at inflated prices and receiving kickbacks.

Prosecutors said the alleged fraud took place between July 1993 and August 1999. According to police reports, the 43-year-old suspect was booked yesterday for theft and bribery offenses which took place between 1995 and 1999.

An Oahu grand jury earlier indicted two former maintenance supervisors, Victor Hasebe, 55, and Winston Owan, 46, for allegedly funneling about 75 percent of the department's auto parts business to Larry's Auto Parts in Kaimuki.

The indictment charged that the shop allegedly sold parts that cost 30 percent higher than other vendors would have charged. In return, prosecutors said, the two received Las Vegas trips, cash and auto parts.

Owan and Hasebe are also accused of falsifying invoices to obtain high-performance auto parts for their own use. Both face charges of first- and second-degree theft, bribery, money laundering and unlawful ownership of a business.

Police said the suspect who turned himself in yesterday was released immediately after being booked and that no charges were filed as of last night.

Prosecutors were not available to comment about what part the suspect played in their investigation.

Owan's attorney has said his client, a city-employed storekeeper for the department, did his job the way he was trained.

Hasebe's attorney has said his client was being blamed for poor record-keeping and procuring auto parts at the last minute.

Both Hasebe and Owan have pleaded not guilty in the case. Trial for the defendants has been set to begin June 18.

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