Monday, Oct. 03, 2022|
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Ex-officer pleads guilty to fraud in pursuit of sex
HONOLULU — A former Maui police officer pleaded guilty Wednesday to fraud charges after prosecutors accused him of soliciting sex from a woman he pulled over for driving while intoxicated.
Defendant Brandon Saffeels, 36, said he offered to help the woman by botching his testimony in the 2019 traffic stop and eventually wanted to pursue a sexual relationship with her.
Prosecutors say he got the woman’s phone number from a police report and then solicited a bribe in the form of sexual favors in exchange for helping her circumvent prosecution.
Saffeels appeared in court via a video link and pleaded guilty to seven counts of honest services wire fraud. Each count carries a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison.
He is scheduled to be sentenced in October.
UH graduate assistants sue to unionize
HONOLULU — University of Hawaii graduate assistants have sued for the right to unionize and bargain for better pay and working conditions.
Three graduate students and Academic Labor United, which represents graduate assistants, filed the lawsuit Saturday against the Board of Regents, the Hawaii Labor Relations Board and the state.
Graduate assistants perform research, teach classes, hold office hours and grade student work while earning their own advanced degrees.
The state constitution gives public employees the right to organize and bargain collectively. But the Hawaii Labor Relations Board determined in 1972 that graduate assistants are not public employees, and so they may not join faculty or staff unions.
Numerous bills have been introduced in the Legislature to overrule the board’s decision, but none has become law.
University spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said the university has worked to address issues raised by graduate assistants and will continue to do so.
The university has opposed legislation giving graduate assistants collective bargaining rights because it considers them to be students first and employees second, Meisenzahl said. Graduate assistant positions include training designed to help students prepare for their future careers, he said.
The university views a graduate assistantship a form of financial assistance for graduate students who perform part-time work.
Minimum pay is set at $18,930 for a nine-month position and $22,140 for 11 months, but many graduate assistants earn more. Graduate assistants who are full-time students are exempt from paying Federal Insurance Contribution Act taxes which fund Medicare and Social Security.
They also receive tuition waivers.
Woman didn’t know she was pregnant
HONOLULU — Lavinia “Lavi” Mounga had no idea a baby was coming when she went into labor on a flight from her home in Utah to Honolulu last week.
“I just didn’t know I was pregnant, and then this guy just came out of nowhere,” Mounga said during a video interview with Hawaii Pacific Health.
The baby boy, Raymond Mounga, arrived early at just 29 weeks while mom was traveling to Hawaii for vacation with her family.
Dr. Dale Glenn, a Hawaii Pacific Health family medicine physician, along with Lani Bamfield, Amanda Beeding and Mimi Ho — neonatal intensive care unit nurses from North Kansas City Hospital — were also on the plane and helped the new mother and baby.
The child will have to stay in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit until he is full term, about another 10 weeks, Mounga said.
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