Wonder Blunder’ defendant gets new trial date
HONOLULU — A new trial date has been set for a North Carolina concert promoter accused of scamming the University of Hawaii out of $200,000 by saying that he was arranging for Stevie Wonder to appear in concert.
Jury selection is now scheduled to start April 9 at U.S. District Court in Honolulu. It was previously slated for late January. Attorneys for promoter Marc Hubbard and prosecutors agreed to the change last week.
Hubbard entered a not guilty plea in November. He was released on $200,000 bail secured by property he owns.
He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Authorities say Hubbard convinced a local promoter he had connections with a former Motown Records executive who could secure Wonder for an August fundraiser.
The school paid $200,000 as a deposit and began selling advance tickets, but later learned neither the singer nor his representatives authorized the concert. It hasn’t been able to recover the money.
Another man accused of transporting the money as part of the deal has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors. Sean Barriero, a 44-year-old British national who lives in Miami, is scheduled to be sentenced on May 2.
Abercrombie appoints Amaral to parole authority
HONOLULU — Gov. Neil Abercrombie is appointing to the Hawaii Paroling Authority a former state representative and Native Hawaiian cultural liaison.
Abercrombie announced Annelle Amaral’s appointment Monday.
Her term will expire in June 2015 if the Senate confirms her nomination. Amaral would fill a new seat created by a new law expanding the authority’s members from three to five.
Amaral served in the state House of Representatives from 1988 to 1996. She served as Native Hawaiian cultural liaison to the commander of U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii from 2008 until recently.
Last week a task force issued recommendations to reduce the disproportionate number of Native Hawaiians in the criminal justice system.
Native Hawaiians make up about one-quarter of the state’s population, but about 40 percent of the state’s inmates and those on parole.
Schatz building staff, seeks unity in delegation
HONOLULU — Sen. Brian Schatz is looking to build his office staff.
Schatz, in a news release, says his office will take resumes of people interested in serving in either his Washington, D.C., or Hawaii offices. He says he’s looking for “talented, energetic and public-minded people” who want to serve the state and nation.
The deadline for resumes is Friday.
Meanwhile, Schatz says it’s important the state’s congressional delegation unify around what’s best for Hawaii. And he says every indication so far is that it will be able to do that.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed Schatz for the Senate seat previously held by Daniel Inouye. Inouye, who died Dec. 17, had said he wanted U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa to succeed him.
Kauai police finish year with just a few vacancies
LIHUE, Kauai — The Kauai Police Department will have only three open positions with the arrival of the New Year.
The Garden Island reports that the police department for years has struggled with a large number of vacancies, but the situation improved this year with the graduation of two classes of police officers and the streamlining of the application process.
The department’s acting assistant police chief, Kaleo Perez, says the time to process new hires was greatly reduced. The result is that more officers have been hired. He says other changes expedited the hiring process, including pre-employment tests now being done online and other tests grouped over a two-day period.
Perez says it used to take up to three years to process an application. Now it takes six to eight months
Abercrombie appoints Ochiai to 1st Circuit Court
HONOLULU — Gov. Neil Abercrombie has appointed a new judge to the Hawaii First Circuit Court.
Dean E. Ochiai of Honolulu will fill the vacancy left by Judge Richard Pollack. Pollack became an associate justice on the Hawaii Supreme Court.
The 57-year-old Ochiai had been serving as a district court judge. Prior to becoming a judge, Ochiai was vice president and managing attorney for the First Insurance Company of Hawaii, Ltd. His resume also includes work as a prosecutor and private practice attorney.
His new appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.