Estimate of area burnt in park fire increases
HILO >> Hawaii Volcanoes National Park officials now estimate the size of Wednesday's devastating forest fire at 4,730 acres.
With a smaller fire of 250 acres, the total burned this week east of Chain of Craters Road comes to 4,980 acres.
Four helicopters making bucket drops of water managed to keep the fire from spreading yesterday, but hot spots continued to burn.
With no dirt or water to throw onto new spot fires as they sprang up, 40 members of ground crews practically had to wrestle with smoldering embers.
"Crew members have to stomp the hot coals or rub them on lava (rocks) to put them out," a park statement said yesterday.
A major concern for firefighters now is kipukas, areas of thicker, more mature vegetation, which could be threatened if a major blaze resumed, the park said.
Ranger Tim Tunison said the kipukas will be an important source of seeds to re-establish native forests once the fires are out.
Chain of Craters Road remains open to the public, but trails in the area are closed, the park said.
Protest of puppet show delayed to next week
A protest of a Vietnamese water puppet show originally planned for this weekend has been postponed to correspond with the new performance schedule of the troupe.
Shows of the Saigon Water Puppet Theater that were to have taken place tonight through Monday have been rescheduled for Wednesday, Thursday and next Friday at 6:30 p.m. because of a delay in granting travel clearances for the puppeteers.
Thirteen Hawaii Vietnamese organizations that had planned to protest the performances this weekend have changed their protest rally to correspond with the new schedule.
The groups say the East-West Center's sponsorship of the events sends a message that it supports Vietnam's communist regime, which the groups accuse of human rights violations.
William Feltz, East-West Center arts program coordinator, said the puppet theater group, which performs the unique 1,000-year-old tradition of puppetry on water, is an independent company and not government-sponsored.
Corrections and clarifications
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin strives to make its news report fair and accurate. If you have a question or comment about news coverage, call Editor Frank Bridgewater at 529-4791 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Police, Fire, Courts
By Star-Bulletin staff
Wanted fugitive leads officers on brief chase
Honolulu police said a wanted fugitive led officers on a short chase though a Kailua neighborhood yesterday.
Brandon O'Brien, 24, was wanted for questioning about a Keolu Hills car break-in on May 22. Police believe the suspect stole credit cards that he later tried to use at an American Savings Bank ATM at 200 Hamakua Drive.
Police spotted O'Brien around 4 p.m. along Wanao Road and said he ran away, leading officers through bushes and back yards of the neighborhood for 15 minutes. He was caught and arrested on four outstanding warrants.
Police find a witness to December shooting
A witness to a fatal shooting has been located, which means a murder case can now proceed, Honolulu police said.
Earlier this week, police announced they were trying to find Don Ilga because he was a witness to a shooting at Ala Wai Community Park in December.
Police said investigators at the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney received a call Thursday afternoon that Ilga was at a youth outreach center in Waikiki. Honolulu police officers were called and arrested IIga without incident at 5:45 p.m.
Anibal Ortiz has been charged with the murder of Odin Ortiz, no relation to the suspect. Police say Ilga witnessed the shooting on Dec. 28 at the Kapiolani Boulevard park.
Woman turns self in for alleged office theft
The former office manager of a Honolulu ophthalmologist turned herself in to police yesterday and was arrested on numerous charges stemming from the alleged theft of nearly $400,000 from her employer between 1997 and 2002.
The 42-year-old Whitmore Village woman was arrested under suspicion of money laundering, computer fraud, two counts of theft and 20 counts of forgery. She was later released on her own recognizance.
The woman has agreed to waive indictment and will be charged when prosecutors file a criminal complaint with the courts, said Randy Lee, deputy prosecutor.
Lee said the alleged theft was discovered after the ophthalmologist hired an accountant to figure out why his seemingly successful practice was going bankrupt.
Prostitute says she was forced into car
A downtown prostitute told police that she was forced into a car by her former boyfriend and told to work for him earlier this week.
Police said the incident happened at 11:45 Thursday night near the corner of Nuuanu Avenue and Kukui Street.
According to the 19-year-old victim, the suspect told her to work for him as a prostitute and then let her out of the car. The case was reported to police as a kidnapping. No arrests have been made.
[ THE COURTS ]
HPD cop indicted in sale of illegal steroids
A federal grand jury has indicted Honolulu police officer Eddie Belluomini on a charge of illegally distributing human growth hormones on at least five occasions.
Belluomini, 32, who is also a bodybuilder, was released Wednesday after posting a $50,000 bond and remains free pending trial.
According to the indictment, Belluomini sold human growth hormones on at least five occasions since last November.
Belluomini was arrested May 23 following an investigation into allegations that he had sold steroids and Serostim to an FBI informant. Serostim is a human growth hormone popular among bodybuilders.
According to a complaint filed Monday, Belluomini agreed to sell two boxes of Serostim for $1,200 to the informant, who contacted him on his cellular phone on Nov. 13.
Belluomini delivered the boxes to the informant -- one on Nov. 15 and the second on Nov. 16 -- at the Dole Signature Theaters in Iwilei. He allegedly arrived at the second delivery wearing his HPD uniform and with the blue light atop his car. Belluomini allegedly conducted similar deals on April 3, April 15 and the latest on May 8.
Belluomini, a police officer for 10 years, was placed on leave by the department without pay effective yesterday.
Aide indicted for fraud under the Felix decree
A therapeutic aide who allegedly billed his employer for more than $13,000 in services he never rendered to special-needs students under the Felix consent decree was indicted yesterday by an Oahu grand jury.
Daniel Riedel, 32, formerly of Kaneohe, was charged with six counts of second-degree theft and six counts of medical assistance fraud.
He is the third person to be charged since the state Attorney General Department began investigating allegations of fraud related to the Felix consent decree, a federal court order requiring the state to provide improved educational and mental health services to students with special needs and disabilities.
Riedel has not yet been arrested, and a $9,000 bench warrant has been issued for his arrest. State officials believe he is on the mainland.
According to the indictment, Riedel submitted the bogus claims to employer Alaka'i Na Keiki over a six-month period from July 1999 to January 2000. Riedel faces a maximum of five years' imprisonment for each count and a $10,000 fine.
Honolulu Police Department Crimestoppers