In Brief | Big Island & State | 1-8-14


Kona man facing 28 charges in connection with stolen credit card

A Kailua-Kona man has been charged with 28 offenses in connection with the alleged theft of a credit card.

A 55-year-old Kailua-Kona woman reported in May that her credit card had been stolen and used on several occasions without her permission at various retail locations in Kona, according to the Hawaii County Police Department. Detectives from the Area II Criminal Investigations Section investigated the case.

On Monday, police arrested 32-year-old Jonathan K. Donner of Kailua-Kona. He was charged with seven counts of fraudulent use of a credit card, seven counts of identity theft, four counts of forgery and nine counts of theft, according to police. He was also charged with criminal contempt of court for an unrelated case.

His bail was set at $163,000.

Cruise ship crew member overboard north of Hilo

The U.S. Coast Guard searched Tuesday for a crew member who apparently jumped overboard from a cruise ship northeast of Hilo.

The Coast Guard said the overboard man is a 34-year-old Filipino national working aboard the Grand Princess. He was last seen at 10:26 p.m. Monday. The Coast Guard was notified at about midnight.

Princess Cruises spokeswoman Julie Benson said surveillance footage shows the man intentionally jumping overboard. The man was reported overboard about 1,133 miles northeast of Hilo.

The cruise ship was en route to the Big Island on a 15-day trip after leaving from San Francisco on Saturday. About 3,000 passengers and 1,000 crew members are aboard.

The cruise ship, its sister ship Star Princess and container ship Horizon Reliance are helping with the search. An HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barber’s Point is also assisting in the search.

Man killed in Hilo crash

A 40-year-old Hilo man died Tuesday from injuries he suffered in a one-car crash on Kinoole Street in Hilo.

The Hawaii County Police Department identified the victim as Tracy S. Pack.

Responding to the 1:49 a.m. call, South Hilo patrol officers determined Pack was operating a 2006 Mercedes Benz four-door sedan and traveling south on Kinoole Street when he apparently failed to negotiate a curve in the road approximately 180 feet north of the street’s intersection with Puainako Street, according to police. He subsequently struck a chain link fence and then a building.

Pack was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, according to police. He was pronounced dead at 4:28 a.m. at Hilo Medical Center.

Police believe that speed and alcohol contributed to the crash.

Traffic Enforcement Unit officers have initiated a coroner’s inquest case and have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Anyone with information about this crash should call Officer Tuckloy Aurello at 961-8119.

This is the second traffic fatality on Hawaii Island public roads this year compared with none at this time in 2013.

Police ID woman killed in Keaau crash

Hawaii Island police have identified the 53-year-old Puna woman who died Saturday following a two-car crash on Highway 130 in Keaau.

The victim was identified as Ahn Kim Tran, of Keaau, according to the Hawaii County Police Department.

Tran was driving a 2001 Mercury four-door sedan and headed northbound on Highway 130 when she apparently crossed the centerline and collided with a southbound 1999 Mercedes Benz all-purpose vehicle, according to police, who responded to the 8:28 p.m. report of a crash near the intersection of Highway 130 and Highway 139.

Hawaii County Fire Department rescue personnel transported the driver of the Mercedes, a 56-year-old woman, and her 23-year-old daughter to Hilo Medical Center for treatment, according to police.

Tran was pronounced dead at 11:26 p.m. at Hilo Medical Center, according to police.

All three were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash, according to police.

Anyone with information on the crash should call Officer Casey Cabral at 961-8889.

High surf advisory in effect for north-, east-facing shores

A high surf advisory for the north- and east-facing shores of Hawaii Island is in effect until 6 a.m. Thursday.

Strong to near-gale force winds associated with a surface low several hundred miles northeast of the islands has generated a short-period east-northeast swell that is expected to build today before diminishing on Thursday, according to National Weather Service forecasters in Honolulu.

The service forecast waves ranging in height from 8 to 10 feet this afternoon.

The service categorized the surf’s impact as “moderate” and advised the public to expect strong breaking waves and strong rip currents that can make swimming dangerous and heed all advice given by ocean safety officials.

Wind warning, advisory in effect

A high wind warning is in effect for the Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa summits through 4 p.m. today. A wind advisory is also in effect for the remainder of Hawaii Island.

The National Weather Service in Honolulu forecast northeast winds of 50 to 60 mph with gusts topping 80 mph for areas above 8,000 feet in elevation.

A high wind warning means that winds at the summits are expected to be at least 56 mph with gusts topping 66 mph, according to the service. The service cautioned that travel to the summits should be delayed until winds subside.

The wind advisory for Hawaii Island remains in effect until 4 p.m. today, according to the service. Forecasters called for north and northeast winds of 25 to 35 mph with gusts topping 50 mph.

A wind advisory means that sustained winds of at least 30 mph or gusts of at least 50 mph are expected. Motorists are advised to use extra caution.

Hawaii Tourism Authority gives funds to programs

The Hawaii Tourism Authority will provide funding to 138 community programs throughout the islands that highlight the state’s unique places and cultures. Thirty of those programs are on the Big Island.

The state’s tourism agency said most of the programs are run through the state’s counties, which receive funding and resources from the agency.

CEO Mike McCartney said the programs let the agency support community programs while drawing visitors to experience new cultures and the state’s natural resources.

Some of the West Hawaii programs and events selected are the Kona Earth &Ocean Festival, Ka‘u Coffee Festival, Queen Liliuokalani Long Distance Canoe Races, Working Together to Reforest Waikoloa, Manuka Land Protection Project, Kahilu Theatre Foundation’s Hawaiian Film series, and Hawaii Forest Institute’s Ka Pilina Poina Ole events.

Kauai man charged in animal cruelty case

LIHUE, Kauai — A 35-year-old Kapaa man is under arrest, accused in an animal cruelty case.

Russell Soares was arrested Dec. 10 after one dead dog and several emaciated dogs were found on a property at the Wailua Homesteads. He is charged with two misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals.

The Garden Island said the Kauai Humane Society responded to the property 26 times between 2011 and the December visit that resulted in the arrest.

Soares’ mother, Marcia Jimenez, has said no cruelty to animals has occurred.

Humane Society officer Mana Brown said the property is family owned and the visits dealt with different people who have lived there, rather than just one person.

Brown said the dogs removed from the property in December have recovered well.

Veterans dismayed that grave sites kept under wraps

HONOLULU — The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl has burial sites available, information dismayed veterans organizations say was never shared with them.

For more than two decades, word was that the cemetery was at capacity for in-ground burials. But there are actually 99 available in-ground grave sites, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday. The graves have become available through ongoing disinterment and identification of Korean War “unknowns.”

William Thompson, president of the 442nd Veterans Club, said in a Dec. 31 letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki that veterans are puzzled and disturbed that the grave sites were not made known to them. He said it seems that such information has been deliberately withheld from veterans organizations by the VA and that former cemetery director Gene Castagnetti was prevented from disseminating news of the availability of the graves.

Castagnetti, who retired Sept. 30, declined to comment.

Brad Phillips, West Coast director of the VA’s National Cemetery Administration, said Oahu funeral homes were notified about the grave openings. He said that was more than was done in the past. He said the VA is reviewing the issue and working with Hawaii’s congressional delegation on perhaps expanding its outreach.

Hawaii father gets 30 days for passport fraud

HONOLULU — A Hawaii man has been sentenced to 30 days in federal detention for trying to get his 2-year-old daughter a passport without her mother’s permission.

Court documents said Gregory Armin Scher planned a trip to Mexico in spite of an informal joint custody arrangement with the mother living in Missouri. A judge Tuesday ruled Scher will serve the sentence on weekends so he won’t lose his job.

Authorities said Scher claimed on a passport application that the mother abandoned them. A State Department agent who investigated found Scher and the mother communicated often. The agent said the mother didn’t know Scher was planning to take the girl to Mexico.

Scher said he regrets lying but was frustrated the mother wouldn’t let him take the girl on a cruise.

• North Hawaii Community Hospital already held an event celebrating Hawaii Island philanthropist and pacemaker inventor Earl Bakken’s 90th birthday. An article in Tuesday’s edition mistakenly included information, announcing the event, which was previously published in the newspaper.

•In October 2012, the Electronic Benefits Transfer, or EBT, card sales were $3,000 total at the six farmers markets The Kohala Center worked with to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. By October 2013, the sales had grown to $32,000 per month. An article in Tuesday’s edition incorrectly reported the sales and growth.

•The phone number for the new TK Noodle House in Kona is 327-0070. An article in Monday’s edition misstated the phone number.

It is the policy of West Hawaii Today to correct promptly any incorrect or misleading information when it is brought to the attention of the newspaper.

By local and wire sources