Agency allows delinquent land debt to swell to $242K

HONOLULU — Records show a state agency allowed a man to accumulate a six-figure debt by making sporadic lease payments on a parcel of land.

Lawrence Balberde skipped payments to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and accumulated $242,000 in debt.

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At the same time, Balberde was collecting thousands of dollars monthly by re-leasing the parcel to a Hilo church, agency officials said.

Balberde’s lease was canceled in May after the Hawaiian Homes Commission learned he collected rent through an unauthorized sublease since about 2010.

Documents show he also owed about $470,000 in delinquent property taxes, interest and penalties.

Hawaiian Home Lands is working with the state attorney general’s office to collect Balberde’s debt, officials said.

Balberde paid $2,250 monthly rent from August 2016 until cancellation of the lease. But he was not paying down the accumulated debt, including several missed payments from 2012-16, said department spokesman Cedric Duarte.

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Balberde stopped making payments because the department abruptly tripled his rent years ago without notice, he said.

Balberde also said a now-retired land division manager was aware he was subleasing the property to the church and the agency previously authorized the arrangement.

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