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State roundup for March 7

Airplane crash victims ID’d

WAILUKU, Maui (AP) — Maui County has released the names of those who died in a small chartered plane crash on Lanai Island last week.

The county said Wednesday the 66-year-old pilot and owner of the aircraft, Richard Rooney, died along with two Maui County employees.

Tremaine Balderdi, 52, was a board and commission secretary. Kathleen Kern, 50, was a planner in the county planning department.

The chartered plane crashed on Feb. 26 in a former pineapple field about one mile from the Lanai airport. Three other Maui County employees aboard the flight were injured with burns.

Maui County chartered the plane operated by Maui Air Tours to fly to Lanai for a planning department meeting.

Group criticizes high court pick

HONOLULU (AP) — The Hawaii State Bar Association is calling the governor’s state Supreme Court nominee “unqualified.”

The bar association has informed the state Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee of its rating of Circuit Court Judge Michael Wilson.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie last month announced he is appointing the former chairman of the state Board of Land and Natural Resources to be an associate justice on the state’s high court.

The bar association hasn’t explained why Wilson is considered unqualified for the job.

Man took dead mom’s checks

HONOLULU (AP) — A Honolulu man says he collected more than $200,000 in state disability benefits for his dead mother.

Steven Splater pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to three counts of mail fraud. A federal indictment alleges he collected his mother’s disability benefit checks even though she died in 2000.

Splater, 58, says he collected the checks because his mother wanted him to do so.

The indictment says he filed documents with the state Department of Labor in 2003 saying he had power of attorney for his mother, Edith Splater, who he claimed was still alive.

He faces maximum 20-year sentences for each count of mail fraud. He could also be ordered to pay the state back nearly $224,000. Sentencing is scheduled for June.


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