Thursday, October 1, 2020

Navatek CEO arrested, charged with $12.8M PPP scheme, test kit shortage keeps interisland travel closed, state offers $500 restaurant cards to jobless, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Navatek Robotx awards 2019 publicity photo

Honolulu CEO charged in a $12.8 million PPP scheme. Martin Kao, 47, the chief executive officer of Martin Defense Group, previously known as Navatek LLC, was charged with two counts of bank fraud and one count of money laundering. Star-Advertiser.

Prominent Hawaii Defense Contractor Arrested For CARES Act Fraud. Martin Kao is a prolific political donor whose company, Navatek LLC, has received millions of dollars in federal contracts. Civil Beat.

Businessman accused of trying to scam banks out of millions in federal stimulus funds. A prominent Hawaii businessman has been arrested in connection with an alleged scheme to defraud banks of more than $12.8 million in federal Paycheck Protection Program funds, money that was supposed to be used to help buoy struggling businesses. Hawaii News Now.

CARES Act fraud allegations: Navatek CEO arrested. Martin Kao was arrested Wednesday for allegedly defrauding the federal government of $12.8 million in CARES Act funding. KITV4.

Navatek CEO arrested on federal bank fraud and money laundering charges. Martin Kao, CEO of Honolulu-based defense contractor Navatek LLC, (renamed Martin Defense Group in July) was arrested Wednesday on bank fraud and money laundering charges, in connection with an alleged scheme to defraud banks of more than $12.8 million in CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program funds. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii CEO accused of $12.8M in fraud virus assistance loans. The CEO of a company that was one of Hawaii’s largest recipients of the Paycheck Protection Program defrauded banks of more than $12.8 million in money meant to assist businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic, federal authorities said Wednesday. Associated Press.


Ige: Shortage of tests means testing program for inter-island travel a ‘challenge’. The governor said Wednesday he has no plans to lift the inter-island traveler quarantine, and acknowledged a shortage of tests locally means the pre-travel testing program for trans-Pacific visitors will likely not be extended at first to include local island hoppers. Hawaii News Now.

Interisland Travel Won’t Return Any Time Soon
. The mandatory, 14-day interisland travel quarantine will remain in effect for the foreseeable future. Big Island Now.


$500 restaurant card, call center to aid isles’ jobless. As many as 100,000 residents receiving unemployment benefits are expected to receive $500 in pre-loaded, debit-type cards to be spent at local restaurants, while the state on Wednesday brought on board the first of 200 more agents to handle unemployment claims, including the most difficult cases where people continue to challenge their denials of eligibility. Star-Advertiser.

Unemployed Workers Will Get Cards Worth $500 To Spend In Local Restaurants. Chamber of Commerce Hawaii cites data showing the $75 million restaurant card program will save 1,000 jobs. Civil Beat.

$500 restaurant card coming to Hawaii’s unemployed.
If you’re unemployed, the state’s newest economic plan is looking to keep money in your bank account, and food in your stomach. KHON2.

‘Restaurant cards’ slated for the unemployed: Program will provide $500 that only can be spent at eateries. Hawaii residents who are receiving unemployment insurance benefits will receive $500 to be spent at Hawaii restaurants before mid-December. Tribune-Herald.

Pre-Paid $500 Restaurant Card Program to Help Struggling Hawai‘i Workers and Business. A new Restaurant Card Program was announced today during a news briefing hosted by Governor David Ige, that will provide pre-paid $500 cards to people who have qualified for unemployment insurance, for use at any Hawai‘i restaurant. Maui Now.

Unemployment Call Center Among CARES Act Initiatives.
The most immediate initiative involves $5 million the state unemployment (UI) office will use to staff a new 200-person call center, which began operations Wednesday. Big Island Now.

300 workers hired for call center to help with Hawaii unemployment insurance. A new virtual call center for Hawaii unemployment insurance claims launched on Wednesday. Hawaii News Now.

State opens unemployment insurance call center. Gov. David Ige announced the state’s new unemployment insurance call center yesterday. Garden Island.

State Launches Virtual Call Center for Unemployment Insurance Claims. The state of Hawaiʻi today launched a virtual call center to help claimants obtain information relating to their unemployment insurance claim, Gov. David Ige announced in a news release. Maui Now.

Petition filed against Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. Some of Hawaii's jobless have yet to see an unemployment check, and now they're taking their frustration to court. KITV4.


Federal Communications Commission lodges $50M fine against isle telecom firm. The FCC imposed a $49.6 million fine against Sandwich Isles Communications along with parent company Waimana Enterprises and former sole shareholder Hee for what the agency contends was $27 million in undue payments received from the federal Universal Service Fund to establish and maintain high-cost communications network operations serving about 3,600 Department of Hawaiian Home Lands customers. Star-Advertiser.

FCC fines Sandwich Isles nearly $50M. The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday fined Sandwich Isles Communications, its parent company and the owner of both entities nearly $50 million for violations that resulted in millions of dollars in improper payments. West Hawaii Today.

Sandwich Isles Communications founder fined $49 million by FCC. Sandwich Isles Communications and founder Albert Hee are being fined more than $49 million by the Federal Communications Commission. KHON2.


Teachers union disputes DOH’s reopening metrics. The Hawaii State Teachers Association is urging all schools statewide to only allow distance learning through the second quarter after claiming that the state’s metrics for reopening schools are far less strict than those recommended by federal health authorities. Tribune-Herald.

HSTA calls on DOE to iron out standards to bring students back to campus. The chair of the state Board of Education says public schools won’t be ready to welcome some students back to campus when the 2nd quarter begins Oct. 12. Hawaii News Now.

Ethnicities of Public School Teachers and Students Don’t Match. Nearly 180,000 students attended Hawai‘i public schools in 2017-18. Almost 25% of those students were Native Hawaiians, the largest group. Filipinos and Whites were second and third at 22.5% and 18.7%, respectively. Hawaii Business magazine.


HI-EMA ships first round of free PPE to qualified local businesses. The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) is already shipping the first round of free personal protective equipment (PPE) to local businesses, but it is not too late to apply for the program. Orders will be accepted until Nov. 15, 2020. KHON2.

VIRUS TRACKER — Sept. 30: 121 New COVID-19 Cases In Hawaii. There are currently 140 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state, including 47 people in intensive care. The state’s intensive care beds are at 70% capacity. Civil Beat.


Over 1K Oahu residents sign up for free job training classes. The goal of the Oahu Back to Work is to provide 2,000 trainings for qualified applicants, who must be adults on Oahu whose employment was disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Star-Advertiser.

What’s Stalling The Effort To Update Honolulu’s Parking Policies? Local developers are pushing back against an ambitious bill aimed to make Honolulu’s urban design more walkable. Civil Beat.

Honolulu Is Seeing A Boom In Military-Backed Mortgages. Changes to borrowing limits and a drop in housing prices are driving a big increase in home loans. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

Beach parks reopen today. All beach parks on Hawaii Island reopen at 7 a.m. today following a nearly monthlong closure to prevent the spread of COVID-19. West Hawaii Today.

New Hawaiʻi Island COVID Rule: Beach Parks Reopen, Quarantine Clarified. Nightclubs and large venues must remain closed, and all persons must abide by face covering, physical distancing, and gathering requirements of no more than 10 persons. Big Island Video News.


Family sues over father’s death at Hilo veterans home. A wrongful death lawsuit against the operator of the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home in Hilo has been filed by the sons of Chris Drayer, a decorated Vietnam War veteran who died after contracting COVID-19 in Hawaii’s largest coronavirus nursing home outbreak. Star-Advertiser.

Lawsuit filed against Avalon in vets home COVID-19 death. The family of a veteran who died from COVID-19 at Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the facility’s management, Avalon Health Care Group. Tribune-Herald.

COVID cases double at Life Care Center. COVID-19 cases have doubled at Life Care Center of Hilo, and one resident has been hospitalized at Hilo Medical Center, where that person is undergoing a new coronavirus treatment protocol. Tribune-Herald.

Big Island Mayoral Race Pits Prosecutor Against Businessman. On Hawaii Island, what began as a crowded race among some 16 mayoral hopefuls is now a head-to-head battle to the finish line for local entrepreneur Ikaika Marzo and county prosecutor Mitch Roth. Hawaii Public Radio.


Why Is This New Super PAC Spending Big Bucks On Maui Council Races? Little is known about Hui O Maui Citizens For Change but the group is backing conservative-leaning members. Civil Beat.

Committee debates Olowalu workforce housing project. The County Council Affordable Housing Committee wrestled Tuesday with more than two dozen conditions proposed for a workforce and market-rate project with 59 lots on about 30 acres of West Maui land. Maui News.

Four Finalists Named in Search to Fill Maui Liquor Control Director Vacancy. The finalists are Peter Hanano, Thomas P. Higgins, Timothy R. Poindexter and Layne N. Silva. They will be interviewed at a special meeting of the Liquor Control Commission beginning at 9 a.m. Oct. 14, 2020. Maui Now.

‘Overwhelming’ Need Continues for 30 Emergency Food Distribution Sites in Maui County. Since mid-March, when the Covid-19 pandemic led to an abrupt shutdown of Maui’s tourism economy, emergency food distribution sites have sprung up at more than 30 locations around the island, and on Molokaʻi and Lanai. Maui Now.

Non-Hawaii residents to pay parking fee at Ahihi-Kinau. Starting on Oct. 1, out-of-state visitors to the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve on Maui will be charged a $5 parking fee. KHON2.


Kawakami asks Ige to approve post-travel program. Kauai County inched closer on Wednesday to a two-test system to detect COVID-19 infections once the state opens further to tourism on Oct. 15 as Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami formally asked the governor’s office to approve a program to require a second test after visitors arrive on the island. Garden Island.

Meet the candidates: Jade Wai‘ale‘ale Battad. Wai‘ale‘ale Battad is part Hawaiian, Portuguese, French and Irish, and is a proud alumna of Kapa‘a High School with three daughters: Tara, Tori and Tyli. Garden Island.


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