State briefs for June 9

First Hawaiian monk seal pup of the season born in Kauai

LIHUE, Kauai — The first monk seal pup born in Hawaii this year is a female.

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The pup has already been weaned and is learning to forage for her own food on the south side of Kauai.

Jamie Thompton, Kauai marine mammal response coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says the agency expects a few more monk seal pups will be born this season.

The female pup tagged RK42 was born on April 20 and stayed with her mother for 37 days before being weaned.

Mother seals don’t forage after giving birth and lose about half of their normal weight while they nurse, according to the agency.

Volunteers first believed the pup was a male, but confirmed a few weeks later that it was female.

Volunteers said it’s good that the first pup of the season is a female because more females are needed to grow the monk seal population.

After the pup was born, volunteers said the mother seal, tagged RK13, had to chase off a few male seals that got too close to them.

RK13 has raised other pups on Kauai since 2014.

The current location of the weaned pup has not been released to the public to keep it safe and wild, Thompton said.

A stillborn pup was born in April on Oahu.

Alaska, Hawaii congressmen want to beef up missile defense

HONOLULU — Two senators from opposing parties say are introducing a bipartisan bill that would strengthen the United States’ missile defenses against North Korea.

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, an Alaska Republican, and U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, a Hawaii Democrat, announced their bill Thursday.

Schatz says the bill beefs up a missile defense system to better protect his state of Hawaii, Sullivan’s state of Alaska and the U.S. mainland. Schatz says he supports diplomacy with North Korea but it’s necessary to also “plan for the worst.”

Sullivan says the bill would authorize the development and deployment of space-based sensors. He says the measure helps protect against an “ever-evolving missile threat.”

The bill also includes a focus on working with allies to share missile defense capabilities and calls for more rigorous testing.

Accountant pleads no contest to stealing $7M from nonprofit

HONOLULU — A former accountant accused of stealing nearly $7 million from an Oahu nonprofit organization has pleaded no contest to the charges.

Lola Jean Amorin entered her no-contest plea Wednesday to 18 criminal charges, including first-degree theft, computer fraud, money laundering and tax evasion.

Amorin, 70, had worked as the bookkeeper for about 30 years for The Arc in Hawaii, an organization that serves children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Amorin was arrested last year and charged with stealing millions of dollars from her employer over two decades. While authorities linked nearly $7 million to Amorin through existing bank records, Deputy Prosecutor Chris Van Marter said the actual amount she stole could be higher. Financial institutions are only required to maintain records for up to seven years, he said.

“There were additional losses that we just couldn’t get the record for, but I’m confident that the losses exceed $8 million,” Van Marter said.

The money stolen from the organization was used to buy four homes in Hawaii and one in Nevada, Van Marter said. The money also funded lavish vacations, cars and gambling in Las Vegas.

Staff members and clients of the organization had packed the Honolulu courtroom Wednesday to see Amorin enter her plea. Lei Fountain, the organization’s executive director, said it was important for the group to be there.

“We waited a long time for today, and we’re glad that we’re able to put it behind us,” Fountain said.

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Amorin is scheduled to be sentenced in August.

Albert Amorin, her husband, also pleaded no contest to 13 counts of tax evasion. The charges stem from failing to report $3 million in income over five years, Van Marter said.

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