State briefs for April 20

  • Sean Barriero leaves a U.S. courthouse in Honolulu on Thursday, April 19, 2018, after a judge sentenced him to two months behind bars and four months under home confinement for his role in scamming the University of Hawaii out of $200,000 for a Stevie Wonder concert that never happened. (AP Photo/Jennifer Sinco Kelleher)

Co-defendant in Hawaii concert scam gets 2 months in jail

HONOLULU — A Florida man was sentenced Thursday to two months in jail and four months home confinement for his role in scamming the University of Hawaii out of $200,000 for a Stevie Wonder concert that never happened.

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The university paid a $200,000 deposit in 2012 and began selling tickets before learning that neither Wonder nor his representatives authorized a show. The scam, dubbed the “Wonder Blunder,” humiliated the university and prompted investigations.

Sean Barriero pleaded guilty in 2012 to aiding and abetting the transportation of stolen property. Prosecutors say he created a fake document telling the university its money would be placed into an escrow account, when instead Barriero distributed the money to himself, co-defendant Marc Hubbard and others.

Barriero was facing a sentence of 12 to 18 months in prison, but a prosecutor asked for a lighter sentence because Barriero’s cooperation led Hubbard to plead guilty to wire fraud in 2016. Hubbard was sentenced earlier this month to nearly five years in prison.

The “cooperation is the reason there was no trial in this case,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Wallenstein said. “It would have been a messy trial.”

Hubbard duped Barriero, who believed they could pull off the concert, and led him to believe he was in touch with Wonder’s management, Wallenstein said.

Barriero was misled and “put out to be the fall guy,” Wallenstein said.

Barriero’s federal public defender, Peter Wolff, asked for a sentence of home confinement.

“I am sorry for the embarrassment I helped cause the university,” Barriero said.

Ex-Molokai credit union workers plead guilty to embezzlement

WAILUKU, Maui — Two women are awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to embezzling more than $1 million from the now-closed First Hawaiian Homes Federal Credit Union on Molokai.

Allennie Naeole and Janell Purdy were the only two permanent employees of the credit union when the funds were embezzled over a period of at least nine years before the credit union was closed due to insolvency in December 2015.

Naeole, 55, of Kaunakakai, was the manager and Purdy, 40, of Wailuku, was the customer service representative at the credit union in Hoolehua.

Naeole pleaded guilty to conspiracy to embezzle credit union funds and aggravated identity theft in February. Purdy pleaded guilty to conspiracy to embezzle credit union funds April 4.

Other charges were dismissed in exchange for the guilty pleas.

Naeole and Purdy were arrested in November after a federal grand jury returned a 15-count indictment against them.

Purdy signed several checks issued from credit union accounts to pay for personal expenses of Naeole and her family members, according to court documents.

The credit union’s books and records were altered to cover up negative balances by showing deposits made into personal accounts of Purdy, Naeole and their family members, the documents said.

The National Credit Union Administration liquidated and closed the credit union In December 2015 due to insolvency caused by long-term embezzlement, with loss and liquidation expenses of more than $2 million.

The credit union was chartered in 1937 and served nearly 1,400 members when it was liquidated.

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Naeole is scheduled to be sentenced June 13.

Purdy’s sentencing was set for July 18.

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