Judge grants deferral
in theft case

A former UH football player is
ordered to pay $10,125 restitution

Former University of Hawaii running back West Keliikipi III will not have a criminal record for theft if he stays out of trouble for the next five years.


West Keliikipi III: Pleaded guilty for his part in a $160,000 theft from Kaiser Permanente

Circuit Judge Richard Pollack granted Keliikipi's request yesterday for a deferral of his guilty plea to second-degree theft in a scheme in which he and seven others stole $160,000 from Kaiser Permanente.

Pollack also ordered Keliikipi, 24, of Waianae, to pay restitution of $10,125 -- the amount that he received from the scheme.

Prosecutors had argued for five years' probation and opposed a deferral based on the fraudulent nature of the scheme and the amount of money he had received.

Defense attorney Richard Wurdeman said the offense occurred before Keliikipi enrolled at the University of Hawaii in fall 2002, and it later caught up with him.

"He just wants to put this behind him and move on with the positives, including his hope of becoming a member of an NFL team," Wurdeman said. "It was important for him to get this resolved before the draft" this weekend.

Under a plea agreement, prosecutors had agreed not to seek jail time because Keliikipi fully cooperated with the police investigation and agreed to testify truthfully against any co-defendants who go to trial, said Deputy Prosecutor Chris Van Marter. This was Keliikipi's first contact with the criminal justice system.

According to prosecutors, one of Keliikipi's co-defendants swiped a bank card in a credit card machine in an unsecured area at Kaiser's Moanalua Medical Center and credited her account with money that belonged to Kaiser. She did this several times in 2002 for friends, including Keliikipi, his brother and a cousin.

Keliikipi, however, knew that the money did not belong to him, knew it had been obtained through deception and used it anyway, Van Marter said.

Keliikipi purchased a $3,000 car with the more than $10,000 in cash he withdrew days after the money was deposited into his account. He later turned the car over to police.

Keliikipi apologized yesterday to his family, friends and all the fans who have been supportive of him and attended UH football games over the years. "He doesn't want to let anyone down and will do his best in the NFL to represent Hawaii well," Wurdeman said.

The judge likely considered Keliikipi's conduct after the offense -- enrolling at UH, walking onto the football team and later getting a scholarship, and service work in the community talking to youths -- in granting the deferral, he said.

Keliikipi has been contacted by several NFL teams and has been working hard to prepare himself mentally and physically, Wurdeman said. "We're just hoping for the best."

Keliikipi is one of seven defendants who have pleaded no contest or guilty for their roles in the scheme. The eighth defendant is awaiting trial.

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