POSTED: Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Study predicts little impact from sand plan

The state has submitted an environmental study for a multimillion-dollar project to widen a segment of Waikiki beach with sand pumped in from offshore.

The study, published last week, says the plan would have no significant environmental impact. The state is accepting public comment on the report through April 6.

The project would widen the beach from the Royal Hawaiian Hotel to the Kuhio Beach groin by about 40 feet.

The sand there has been eroding at 1 to 2 feet per year, leading water to rush into sea walls and a hotel restaurant bar at peak high tide.

The state has already set aside $1.5 million for the project, which is expected to cost about twice that.

Hotel owners and the Hawaii Tourism Authority are also expected to contribute funds.

Inmate's lawsuit alleges sex assault

Another female Hawaii inmate who claims she was raped by male prison guards while incarcerated at a privately run prison on the mainland is suing the state and the prison operator.

Lawyers for Monica Alves Peralto filed the lawsuit yesterday in state court. The suit claims two employees of Corrections Corp. of America sexually assaulted her at the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Ky., in June 2008.

The suit names the prison guards but does not list them as defendants. One of the guards is facing felony rape charges in Kentucky.

A Kauai jury found Alves Peralto and her husband, Mitchell Peralto, guilty of kidnapping and murder in the 1997 abduction and beating death of her 23-year-old cousin, Kimberly Washington-Cohen. Each is serving a life prison term without the possibility for parole plus a life prison term with the possibility for parole.

Alves Peralto is the second Hawaii inmate to sue over sexual contact between guards and inmates at Otter Creek. Manslaughter convict Totie Tauala filed suit last October.

The state moved all 128 of its female inmates out of Otter Creek in September after indictment of a sixth prison employee on sex-related charges since 2006. All but Tauala returned to Hawaii.

Aduja allowed to practice law again

The Hawaii Supreme Court has reinstated former state Sen. Melodie Aduja to the practice of law after a three-year suspension for ethics violations.

The court suspended Aduja, 50, in 2005 for mishandling clients' funds. The court's Office of Disciplinary Counsel found that the attorney failed to keep clients' money in a special trust fund account separate from her personal account, as required by the state Rules of Professional Conduct.

Aduja served one term in the state Senate and lost a 2004 bid for re-election. She was fined $4,500 in 2005 after a state Campaign Spending Commission investigation found she had not fully reported campaign contributions and spending.

A graduate of Golden Gate University, she was admitted to the state bar in 1987.

Contractor pleads guilty to tax fraud

An Oahu-based contractor recently pleaded guilty to multiple tax and unlicensed activity offenses.

Tevita Ungaonga was charged with two counts of false and fraudulent statements, four counts of willful failure to file return and four counts of unlicensed activity for unlicensed contracting work that occurred from 2004 to 2007.

Ungaonga did not have a valid contractor's license during that period. Still, he had receipts totaling more than $1 million for which he failed to pay $46,828 in general excise taxes.

Ungaonga was previously convicted five years ago for similar offenses. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 11.

Renewable energy proposals sought

The state Department of Transportation is accepting bids for renewable energy sources to power facilities for several agencies statewide, a department news release said.

The proposals for renewable energy systems can include photovoltaic systems, concentrated solar power and wind power.

The department's Airports Division will announce the winning contractor this summer.

UH-Hilo study seeks cancer survivors

The University of Hawaii at Hilo is seeking long-term cancer survivors on the Big Island for a research study.

The study, conducted by Cheryl Ramos, associate professor of psychology at UH-Hilo and a long-term cancer survivor, will examine cultural factors, stress, coping resources and health conditions that might relate to the quality of life for long-term cancer survivors.

Ramos is seeking 200 long-term cancer survivors to complete a series of questionnaires. Participants will receive a $10 KTA gift certificate as a “;thank you”; for taking part in the project. Anyone who has survived cancer for five years or longer, is 18 years of age or older and lives on the Big Island may be eligible to participate in this study.

For more information or to participate, contact Ramos at 936-1323 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).