Bail reduced in identity theft-related case

  • GOMES

A 34-year-old Pahoa man charged with more than a dozen property offenses received a significant bail reduction during his initial court appearance Monday.

Hilo District Judge Jeffrey Hawk reduced bail for Keaau K. Gomes from $141,000 to $20,000 over the objection of Deputy Prosecutor Kevin Soong.

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Gomes’ attorney, Deputy Public Defender Jonas Krave, had requested Gomes be freed on court-supervised release without monetary bail or a reduction in bail.

Gomes is charged with unauthorized control of a stolen vehicle, 13 counts of possession of personal confidential information, and driving without a license.

All the charges, except driving without a license, are Class C felonies that carry a maximum five-year prison term upon conviction.

Hawk ordered Gomes to return for a preliminary hearing at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Gomes was arrested on Ainaloa Boulevard in Pahoa at about 1:35 p.m. on Friday after a Puna patrol officer pulled over a Ford he believed to be recently reported as a stolen rental vehicle, according to court documents filed by police.

The Ford emblem on all four wheels had been painted over, as was the vehicle’s front badge, documents state. The rear badge had been removed.

In addition, all passenger-side windows and the vehicle’s rear windshield had been covered in what police described as a “black-out-style aftermarket tint,” with documents stating police think it was done “in an apparent effort to alter the vehicle’s true identity.”

Gomes was apprehended without incident, as was a passenger, 18-year-old Cherish Torres.

According to documents, a bag with a white crystalline substance was on the passenger seat between Torres’ legs, and a cylindrical pipe with white residue was found on the floorboard behind Torres. She was charged with unauthorized entry to a vehicle and methamphetamine possession.

Gomes — who has three prior felony convictions — told police he borrowed the vehicle from a friend, but police say the Ford was reported stolen Sept. 21 from Hertz car rental, with a manager telling police the vehicle had not been rented out and no one was given permission to drive it, according to documents. The estimated value of the Ford is $13,000.

Documents state a search of the vehicle turned up documents with the confidential personal information of others, including a First Hawaiian Bank signed personal check for $20, a Bank of Hawaii Visa debit card, a United Wholesale Mortgage loan document, a Hawaiian Electric Co. bill, a West Hawaii Medical Group statement, a Terminix billing statement, a Loandepot.com mortgage statement, documents from Term Care Partners, a Bank of Hawaii address change notice, a Bank of Hawaii check that was supposed to have been mailed to Hawaiian Electric Co., and documents from Ally Financial Services.

All the documents contain account numbers, according to police, none of the individuals the documents belong to know either Gomes or Torres, and all the victims are willing to prosecute.

Gomes denied any knowledge of these documents being within the vehicle, according to police.

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He remained in custody Monday evening at Hawaii Community Correctional Center.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.