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In Brief | Big Island & State | 11-15-13

Fire destroys Pahoa home

Fire officials are investigating the cause of a structure fire Wednesday in Pahoa.

Firefighters responding to the 6:30 p.m. alarm found a three bedroom, two bathroom single-story home on Highway 130 engulfed in flames, according to the Hawaii County Fire Department. Firefighters had the blaze under control within 45 minutes and extinguished by 7:35 p.m.

The 1,500-square-foot home was deemed a complete loss, according to the department. No injuries were reported.

High surf advisory is in effect

A high surf advisory is in effect for the Big Island’s north- and east-facing shores through 6 p.m. today.

A north swell fueling the surf is expected to decline today, according to the National Weather Service in Honolulu.

Forecasters said the waves would range in height from 12 to 18 feet along north-facing shores and from 5 to 8 feet along east-facing shores.

Forecasters also warned of surges and breaking waves at Hilo Harbor.

The service categorized the surf’s impact as “moderate,” warning of strong breaking waves and strong longshore and rip currents that can make swimming difficult and dangerous. The service cautioned beachgoers, swimmers and surfers to heed all advice given by ocean safety officials and to exercise caution.

FBI provides tips to avoid typhoon-related scams

The U.S. Department of Justice issued a warning this week for people to be aware of possible scams related to Typhoon Haiyan.

FBI officials said they have not yet received reports of Hawaii scam victims. However, any possible fraudulent activity pertaining to relief efforts associated with Typhoon Haiyan should be reported to the toll-free National Center for Disaster Fraud hot line at 866-720-5721.

FBI officials offered the following guidelines people should consider before making a donation:

c Do not respond to unsolicited emails, which may be spam. Do not click on links or open photos within those messages, because they may contain computer viruses. To verify the existence of an organization and its legitimacy, search for the group online.

c Conduct due diligence before giving any donations, whether in person, online or over the phone. Donors should be wary of individuals representing themselves as disaster victims or officials seeking donations by email or social networking sites.

c Some illegitimate aid organizations will adopt a name similar to, but not exactly the same as, a reputable charity.

c Making donations directly to known organizations is a way to ensure contributions are received for their intended purposes. Reputable charities do not use coercive tactics. Do not give personal or financial information to anyone soliciting contributions.

c Avoid cash donations. Instead pay by debit or credit card, or by check payable directly to the charity, not to an individual. Legitimate charities do not solicit donations via money transfer.

People who have experienced possibly suspicious email solicitations or fraudulent websites should report them to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at

Police locate Jost

Big Island police have located Airiel Rhodes Jost, also known as Ariel Jost, who was wanted on bench warrants for violating terms and conditions of his probation.

Jost was arrested Thursday in Kalapana, according to the Hawaii County Police Department.

Two charged in connection with Puna burglary

A Pahoa man and woman are facing burglary and theft charges in connection with a reported burglary Tuesday in Puna.

Nicole Kruse, 19, and Micah Lopez, 34, both of Pahoa, were arrested about 1 p.m. Tuesday in Pahoa after police responded to a reported burglary at a home on Ono Street in the Hawaiian Beaches subdivision around noon, according to the Hawaii County Police Department. The pair is accused of entering the Ono Street home and removing an entry door and air conditioning unit, which have a combined value of $468.

On Thursday, Kruse and Lopez were each charged with first-degree burglary and second-degree theft, according to police. Bail for Kruse was set at $7,000. Bail for Lopez, who was also charged with violating parole, was set at $35,000.

PTA areas open to bird hunters Saturday, Sunday

Army officials are opening several training areas at Pohakuloa Training Area for bird hunting from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Training areas 10 and 11 will be open to shotgun bird hunting only, according to PTA. The use of shotgun slugs in not permitted. Hunting is subject to state hunting rules and bag limits.

All hunters must check in and out at one of the following hunter’s check-in stations: Kilohana, located on Saddle Road between mile markers 43 and 44, or Puuanahulu, located on Mamalahoa Highway, near mile marker 15. Check-out is no later than 7:30 p.m. each day.

Hunting passes will be provided at the check-in stations. These passes must be signed and placed on the vehicle’s dashboard. Hunters who do not have a signed hunting pass on their dashboard will be barred from hunting for 30 days.

Hunter access to training areas 10 and 11 is through any of gates 1 to 6 on Old Saddle Road, north side only.

Firearms, alcoholic beverages, all-terrain vehicles, dirt bikes and recreational vehicles are not allowed in the training and hunting areas.

For more information, call PTA hunter’s hot line at 969-3474 or visit and click on the “Hunting” tab.

Health Department rebroadcasts beverage ads

HONOLULU — The Hawaii Department of Health is taking another shot at persuading teenagers to forgo sugary beverages to avoid obesity.

The department is rebroadcasting television ads as part of its “Rethink Your Drink” campaign, Hawaii News Now reported.

The ads show teenagers downing a lumpy, fatty, yellow substance from a beverage can. The message is that they’re consuming unseen calories and could pack on 10 pounds in a year.

Project Manager Lola Irvin said 60 percent of the youth who saw the ads said they reduced their consumption of sugary drinks.

Director of Health Loretta Fuddy said the ads were successful and they will run again through January.

State investigates Waianae nonprofit to aid homeless

HONOLULU — The state Department of Human Services is investigating the alleged theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars from a leeward Oahu homeless shelter.

Hawaii News Now reported Wednesday the investigation is focusing on the alleged theft of $800,000 by the former program director of Waianae Community Outreach.

The nonprofit receives nearly $1 million a year from the state to operate a transitional housing shelter in Kalaeloa and provide outreach services for hundreds of homeless Leeward Coast families.

Christy Ho is an attorney for the nonprofit. She said human services investigators are requesting nearly all of the organization’s financial records.

The organization is suing former program director Laura Pitolo, claiming she signed checks to herself and family members and made unauthorized withdrawals. Pitolo declined to comment.

44-month sentence for Kauai Ponzi scheme

HONOLULU — A man who operated a Ponzi scheme on Kauai has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison.

Peter Heckmann was sentenced Thursday to 44 months in federal detention. He must also pay about $1.6 million in restitution. He pleaded guilty in April to wire fraud.

A Honolulu grand jury indicted Heckmann on wire fraud charges five years ago. Prosecutors said he fled to Bali where he was operating a recording studio and record label.

The FBI launched a social media campaign to generate interest in an international manhunt.

He surrendered at the airport after voluntarily returning to Honolulu.

Defense attorney Peter Wolff asked for leniency because Heckmann has a heart condition. Judge Helen Gillmor said she takes his medical condition seriously but is keeping his sentence within the guideline range.

Kauai solar project awaits lands lease

LIHUE, Kauai — A spokesman for Kauai Island Utility Cooperative said a lease with the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is the last hurdle to construction of a 60-acre solar power facility.

The Garden Island reported the facility could add a second 12-megawatt solar facility to the Kauai grid.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural determined the $50 million Anahola Solar Project would have no significant effect on the environment.

KIUC communications manager Jim Kelly said construction could begin in the first half of next year if a lease is approved by the lands department.

Critic Stephanie Blakemore in public comments submitted for the environmental report said the land in Anahola should not be turned into a field of solar panels. She said panels could be installed on business and home rooftops.

Councilwoman Ford’s farm 2 acres

South Kona/Ka‘u Councilwoman Brenda Ford and her husband, Larry, have a 2-acre farm in Captain Cook. An article in Thursday’s edition incorrectly described the size of the farm.

By local and wire sources