State briefs for July 10

Sailor censured for accepting contractor gifts

HONOLULU — The Navy censured a Pearl Harbor-based active duty captain for “repeatedly and improperly” accepting gifts from a defense contractor at the center of a fraud and bribery scheme that cost the government about $35 million.

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Navy Secretary Richard Spencer sent Capt. Charles A. Johnson a censure letter last month saying he accepted the gifts from Leonard Glenn Francis, also known as “Fat Leonard.”

More than two dozen people have been charged in related cases, including more than 20 current and former Navy officials.

The Navy said there’s a five-year statute of limitations for court-martial charges. It’s not considering such charges against Johnson, but is evaluating what further administrative action it will take.

On July 26, 2006, Francis, who is based in Singapore, paid more than $6,000 for food, alcohol and entertainment for a party in the Asian nation to celebrate Johnson’s promotion to commander, the censure states. Johnson, who was serving with Carrier Strike Group 5 at the time, paid $500 for the party, the document says.

Johnson, in turn, disclosed “official information” to Francis, the Navy said.

Francis, a Malaysian national, pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribery and fraud charges in the decade-long conspiracy.

Man found guilty of manslaughter in park stabbing

HONOLULU — A jury found a homeless man guilty of manslaughter instead of murder in a fatal stabbing in a Honolulu park.

The verdict was announced Friday for Karl Forster, who stabbed Theodore Abraham Jr. on July 28, 2016, near Kapiolani Park’s Diamond Head tennis courts. The 55-year-old Abraham died of a single stab wound to his chest that punctured his heart.

An Oahu grand jury charged the 63-year-old Forster with murder.

Defense lawyer Alan Komagome told the jury that Forster stabbed Abraham in self-defense. Abraham had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.283, more than three times the legal threshold for drunken driving.

Forster faces a maximum 20 years in prison. He is slated to be sentenced in October.

Judge rules for developer, paving way for resort

LIHUE, Kauai — A developer will be able to lay groundwork for a resort on Kauai, ending court dealings in a lengthy property dispute.

Circuit Court Chief Judge Randall Valenciano ruled in favor of Coco Palms Hui LLC, owned by Chad Waters and Tyler Greene, paving the way for the company to file permits and eye the rebuild of the Coco Palms resort hotel.

“We would hope to start (construction), within the next six to nine months,” Greene said.

Absent from the day’s proceedings, which lasted just more than a minute, were Noa Mau-Espirito and Kamu “Charles” Hepa, who have battled the development of the property.

They claimed ownership of the land through ancestral rights and planned to turn it into a cultural and religious center for the Kanaka Maoli.

Valenciano, who stated the court hadn’t received written opposition on the matter, ruled in favor of the summary judgment that was filed in court June 6.

Mau-Espirito said his camp isn’t done filing appeals. He also said they weren’t informed of the day’s proceedings.

Monk seal exhibit reopens following renovation

HONOLULU — A Hawaiian monk seal exhibit is once again open at Waikiki Aquarium after undergoing a $180,000 renovation.

The project, which began in late January, involved complete resurfacing of the swimming area’s concrete lining, newly resurfaced rocks, as well as a new filtration system and polished-up window.

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Aquarium Director Andrew Rossiter says it was “kind of patchwork repair.”

Only Hoailona the monk seal will be featured at the newly renovated exhibit. Rossiter says Maka Onaona, the oldest Hawaiian monk seal in captivity at 34, is terminally ill and will not return on display, but will remain under good care behind the scenes.

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