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State roundup for March 22

Man guilty in $2.3M fraud

HONOLULU (AP) — A Maui businessman is pleading guilty to tax felonies related to a scheme to falsely claim the Internal Revenue Service owed him refunds totaling more than $2.3 million.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Hawaii says Charles Loewen pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring to defraud the United States and filing a false claim for tax refunds from the IRS.

Prosecutors say Loewen and his wife conspired in a scheme to falsely claim they were owed a large refund. Prosecutors say he created fake tax documents.

The 57-year-old is the owner of Paradise Stone &Tile.

Prosecutors say he also tried to conceal income from that business.

He faces a maximum term of five years in prison on each of the two charges when he’s sentenced on July 3.

Molokai health center funded

KAUNAKAKAI, Molokai (AP) — Molokai’s only federally qualified health center will be getting $500,000 to make capital improvements.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced Wednesday the release of the funds for the Molokai Community Health Center.

The grant will complete the second phase of the center’s capital improvement project, including structure renovations, parking lot repaving and landscaping.

Abercrombie says the health center serves about 3,000 of the island’s 7,200 residents. He says the project will expand and improve access to quality care on the Friendly Isle.

The center’s primary clientele are Molokai’s indigent, uninsured and underinsured. Two-thirds of them are Native Hawaiian.

Illegal solar panels probed

HONOLULU (AP) — The state is investigating solar panel systems that are being turned on without permission from Hawaiian Electric Co.

The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs is investigating the illegal photovoltaic systems because they’ve already damaged some homes.

DCCA Consumer Advocacy Branch Executive Director Jeffrey Ono says officials are already seeing homes on Molokai that have had electronic systems burn out as a result.

The Hawaii Solar Energy Association estimates there are more than a thousand so-called “rouge solar systems.”

HECO spokesman Darren Pai says the utility is taking time to understand the problem before taking action.


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