In brief | Big Island & state 100513


Mail carrier pleads guilty to mail theft

HONOLULU — A 62-year-old former Big Island mail carrier has pleaded guilty to stealing mail.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports Albert Mamac Jr. of Kailua-Kona entered the plea Wednesday to two counts of mail theft. He faces up to five years in prison for each count.

Mamac retired in February after more than 28 years with the U.S. Postal Service.

Prosecutors said Mamac, in June 2010, stole a letter containing a $250 grocery store gift card. The card was redeemed by someone using Mamac’s wife’s frequent shopper card.

He also stole a $100 Target gift card in October 2010. The card was redeemed by his daughter in Reno, Nev.

Mamac blamed “stupidity” for the theft.

He told U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson that an envelope had opened and the card was sticking out.

Police seeking information on Puna park robbery

Police are seeking information about a reported robbery at a Puna park in July.

A 51-year-old man and a 37-year-old woman were reportedly approached by three unidentified men at 2 a.m. July 28 at the pavilion at Ahalanui Park.

After demanding the victims’ wallets, one of the suspects got into a physical altercation with the male victim. Another suspect then reportedly threatened the victim with a machete. The suspects fled with cash and the victim’s cellphone.

Police ask anyone with information about this case to contact Detective Wendall Carter at 961-2871 or wcarter@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Police arrest man wanted for questioning

Police arrested Michael Dwayne Carvalho, 26, who was wanted on warrants and for questioning in an unrelated case, on Wednesday.

Carvalho was arrested in Puna and taken to the Hilo police cellblock while detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section continued the investigation into a robbery, assault and terroristic threatening incident in June.

Carvalho was charged Thursday with first-degree robbery, kidnapping, first-degree terroristic threatening, attempted unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle and two counts of second-degree assault. His bail was set at $140,000. He remained at the cellblock until his initial court appearance scheduled for Friday.

The charges stem from an incident the evening of June 9 at a home on Cook Street in Kalapana. On that date, Carvalho reportedly held a 29-year-old male acquaintance at knife point, assaulted him, threatened him, demanded his car keys and attempted to steal his vehicle.

PTA cancels hunting events

Pohakuloa Training Area has canceled hunting events until further notice, because of personnel and fiscal constraints, officials said Friday.

PTA will continue hunting immediately upon having the resources to manage the current program.

Autopsy finds no signs of foul play in fire death

An autopsy conducted Wednesday indicated no signs of foul play in a body found in the remnants of a fire Monday night in Hawaiian Ocean View Estates.

The forensic pathologist is withholding the cause of death pending toxicology reports but did find evidence of smoke inhalation in the unidentified man.

Detectives from the Area II Criminal Investigations Section are continuing the investigation into the identity of the victim.

Man arrested in connection with gunshots

Big Island police have a man in custody in connection with a report of gunshots in Hilo on Monday afternoon.

At 1:54 p.m. Monday, Hilo patrol officers responded to a report that a man had fired several rounds from a red Mazda Miata in front of a house on Elama Street in the Panaewa area.

On Thursday, police found the car and the driver in a vacant lot on Lehua Street in the Fern Acres subdivision in Puna. The 34-year-old man, who has no permanent address, was arrested on suspicion of reckless endangering. He is being held at the Hilo police cellblock while detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section continue the investigation.

Military intercepts missile in test

HONOLULU — The U.S. military intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile in space over the Pacific Ocean using the most advanced interceptor being developed for launch from a ship, the Defense Department said Friday.

The military fired the target from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai late Thursday. The USS Lake Erie used radar to track the target and then launched a new interceptor under development to destroy it.

The new interceptor — called SM-3 Block 1B — has a more sophisticated ability to seek out and destroy targets than the one now deployed on Navy ships. The current one in use is called the SM-3 Block 1A.

The SM-3 interceptors destroy incoming ballistic missile targets by colliding with them, something defense contractor Raytheon Co. described as akin to “hitting a bullet with a bullet.”

The only explosion is generated by the impact of the two objects hitting each other.

Heather Uberuaga, a Raytheon spokeswoman, said the test was the fifth successful back-to-back flight test for the Block 1B version of the interceptor. It’s now ready to go into production if and when the government gives the word, she said.

The interceptor has been scheduled to be deployed by the Navy in 2015.

Oahu hotel occupancy back at ’05 level, others lag

HONOLULU — Hotel occupancy on Oahu is back to levels seen at the peak of Hawaii’s tourism industry in 2005, while Maui, Kauai and the Big Island still haven’t fully recovered from the Great Recession, according to a new analysis.

An analysis by Hospitality Advisors LLC says hotel occupancy on Oahu was 85 percent during the first eight months of 2013, the same level seen in 2005 and well up from a low of 72 percent in 2009.

The Honolulu-based hospitality consulting firm says occupancy was 78 percent statewide from January through August, including 75 percent on Maui, 63 percent on the Big Island and 71 percent on Kauai.

While occupancy has returned to peak levels on Oahu, the rate is 5 percentage points behind 2005 levels on Maui and Kauai, and 9 percentage points behind on the Big Island.

Analysts say occupancy is expected to grow 2.7 percentage points statewide in 2014, to 81.1 percent. At the same time, average daily room rates are expected to go up 8.1 percent to $249 per night in 2014.

Hospitality Advisors says one night in an average hotel room in 2014 will cost $233 on Oahu, $295 on Maui, $242 on Kauai and $231 on the Big Island.

Thirty Meter Telescope’s primary mirror 30 meters in diameter

In a story Sept. 30 about construction of the world’s largest optical telescope, The Associated Press erroneously reported the dimensions of the Thirty Meter Telescope’s primary mirror. It is nearly 100 feet, or 30 meters, in diameter, not length.

By local and wire sources