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In brief | Big Island & State | 2-27-14

February 27, 2014 - 12:05am

Department of Public Safety warns of scam

The state Sheriff Division is warning the public about a phone call scam involving people impersonating sheriff deputies. It is a nationwide scam that started affecting Hawaii residents at the beginning of February. The impersonator tells people there is a warrant for their arrest because they did not show up for jury duty or court. The impersonator tells people they will be arrested unless they pay a fee to have the warrant cleared.

Sheriffs do not and will not call people about warrants having to do with jury duty or solicit the purchase of anything. Anyone receiving a call matching this scam should alert the Sheriff Division by calling 586-1352.

Fire destroys Mountain View home

A structure fire reported shortly before noon Tuesday destroyed a two-story home in Mountain View, according to the Hawaii County Fire Department.

Firefighters responding to the 11:58 a.m. alarm arrived at the Maui Street home in the Hawaii Island Paradise Acres subdivision to find the two-story, 384-square-foot home engulfed in flames, according to the department, which noted the residence was unpermitted. The structure’s walls were completely burned with just the frame left standing; the roof was leaning and partially collapsed.

While firefighters were extinguishing the blaze, the roof collapsed completely, according to the department. No fire department personnel were in the structure at the time and no injuries were reported.

No one was at the home when the fire was reported, according to the department. The American Red Cross was on the scene to provide assistance.

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation, according to the department. The structure was deemed a complete loss.

Thief takes coffee parchment

Police are investigating the theft of 800 pounds of coffee parchment and other items from a property in Naalehu.

Police received a call Feb. 11 from a 53-year-old homeowner reporting someone had removed 10 80-pound brown burlap bags containing coffee parchment, a 10-by-10-foot instant gazebo and an electric garage door opener from his property. The burlap bags are marked with “14-2” in black ink, the Hawaii Police Department said.

Police estimated the value of the stolen items at $10,000.

Ka‘u patrol officers are continuing the investigation, which is classified as a second-degree theft.

Anyone with information on this incident or anyone who may know the identities of the suspects should call Officer Augustine Akiu at 939-2520.

Those who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Feds questioned about international flights to KOA

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson fielded questions Wednesday about the possibility of authorizing international flights to land at Kona International Airport again.

“I’m personally familiar with the Kona airport, happy to try to work with your constituents, representatives, local officials in this regard to get there with the concern for security,” Johnson said, responding to questions from U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-2nd.

Gabbard noted the airport has not had direct international flights since 2012, when Customs and Border Patrol stopped offering service there. Federal officials have previously voiced concerns about the security of the international terminal, and have said the facility is not up to current Customs and Border Patrol standards.

“I know the burden of being on a multihour flight to Honolulu, and then you’ve got to change planes and fly to Kona,” Johnson said. “I know the inconvenience of that. So I’d like to see us work with local airport officials to try to get to a place where you can have an international arrivals capability. You make a good point that if you lose one, you don’t have a second. So I’d like to see us try to work together on that. I do believe, however, that we can’t do something that’s going to potentially compromise aviation security, border patrol security.”

DCCA warns about bitcoin issues

No company is licensed to transmit bitcoin in Hawaii, say officials with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Division of Financial Institutions.

This week’s collapse of a major bitcoin exchange, a medium for electronic cash or “crypto-currency,” has triggered many questions, officials said.

DFI licenses money transmitters in Hawaii and has not licensed any crypto-currency companies to do bitcoin exchanges, wallets or “mining” activity. If companies are offering to transmit bitcoins, they are doing so in violation of Hawaii’s money transmitter laws.

“If anyone has suffered any losses, the crypto-currency is not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and any recovery would have to be done through the company that either ‘mined’ or sold the crypto-currency to the consumer,” DFI Commissioner Iris Ikeda Catalani said.

Consumers should be aware that if they purchased merchandise or goods using bitcoin, the merchandise may or may not be delivered, or the consumer may have to pay U.S. dollars for the merchandise or goods. Bitcoin is a crypto-currency that uses money in a digital form.

Back pay on the way for substitute teachers

HONOLULU — An estimated 10,000 Hawaii substitute teachers could soon be getting their share of a $14 million settlement for back-pay claims.

A judge is putting the Honolulu law firm that brought the decade-old lawsuit in charge of disbursing the money.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported the order will likely be finalized Wednesday, allowing the state to turn over the money to the firm.

The teachers are owed the money because of a 2005 Circuit Court ruling saying the state underpaid Hawaii substitute teachers millions of dollars from 2000 to 2005.

Attorney Paul Alston said his firm hired a payroll company to cut the checks, which should be going out after the end of the month.

Payouts range from a few hundred dollars to nearly $20,000.

Man in car dragging put into coma

HONOLULU — A prosecutor says the pedestrian who was dragged by a car that ran him over in Waianae is in a medically induced coma.

An Oahu grand jury has returned an indictment against the alleged driver, Miguel Torres. He’s charged with attempting to kill Henry Akuna and Marlena Montez last week.

Police said Torres hit them with his car, then backed up and hit Akuna again, running him over.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Prosecutor Chastity Imamura said Akuna was dragged for about a third of a mile. She said Torres drove through stop signs as others yelled for him to stop. Akuna was freed when Torres put the car in reverse.

Torres is being held on $200,000 bail and couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

Toddler gets measles on Oahu

HONOLULU — Hawaii health authorities have confirmed a second case of the measles on Oahu in less than two weeks.

State epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said Tuesday a 2-year-old was exposed during a visit to a pediatrician’s office Feb. 7.

The child developed a cough and fever 10 days later followed by a rash Friday.

The first case involved an infant who returned from the Philippines with the disease.

KHON reported the state isn’t naming the doctor’s office or location. But it isn’t at Wahiawa General Hospital where both children were taken during their illness.

Those exposed to the second case would likely show symptoms by mid-March if they contracted the disease.

People who believe they may have measles should call their doctor instead of going to the doctor’s office.

Hee wants law enforcement changes at Iolani Palace

HONOLULU — Recent vandalism at Iolani Palace is prompting a state senator to call for law enforcement changes.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Clayton Hee said law enforcement jurisdiction over the palace should shift from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to the state Sheriff Division.

Hee said sheriffs are more equipped to be responsible for the palace, instead of “fish and game wardens.”

He said DLNR doesn’t have adequate staffing or law enforcement training.

DLNR Chairman William Aila said the current system of having police and sheriffs back up DLNR officers is working.

Hawaii News Now reported Hee proposes adding $200,000 to hire four sheriff’s deputies to patrol the palace.

By local and wire sources