Former Hawaii couple
pleads not guilty to fraud

By Debra Barayuga

A former Waipahu couple pleaded not guilty yesterday in Circuit Court to charges that they fraudulently obtained more than $130,000 in public assistance benefits and filing false income tax returns over a six-year period.

Julieta Fainuu, 32, and husband Felise Fainuu, 33, currently living in Alaska, were indicted Nov. 2 on 18 counts, including first- and second-degree theft and false and fraudulent statements. The couple returned voluntarily to Hawaii at their own expense to answer the charges.

According to the indictment, between December 1995 and August 2002, the couple allegedly obtained financial assistance valued at about $32,422, food stamps valued at $20,652, medical benefits of $26,077, child-care benefits of $29,196, public housing grants of $11,282 and Section 8 rent subsidies of $5,825.

The amount of public assistance benefits and subsidies people receive from the state is based on their income or lack of income.

The nature of the charges against the couple involves the wife's alleged failure to report that her husband was living with her, according to prosecutors.

The couple is accused of filing false individual income tax returns from 1997 to 2001 and fraudulently obtaining about $10,600 in tax refunds between the two of them during the same period.

Their attorney, Craig Kimsel, reserved comment until he has had more time to review the case.

Trial was set for March 10. The couple face up to 10 years' imprisonment on the first-degree theft charge and/or a $10,000 fine, or twice the amount allegedly stolen, whichever is greater.

Second-degree theft is punishable by five years' imprisonment, and making false and fraudulent statements is punishable by up to three years in prison.

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