Former head of nonprofit indicted for theft - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Former head of nonprofit indicted for theft

A federal grand jury has indicted the former head of a defunct charity for theft.

The panel alleged that 50 year-old Kimo Keawe of Kailua embezzled federal funds that was meant to go to the Hawaii Centers for Independent Living.

"There's been some concerns and some troubles with leadership for quite some time," said Louis Erteschik, executive director of the Hawaii Disability Right Center, which is not related to the HCIL.

"They have a mission and a mandate with folks with disabilities so to the extent they're not carrying out what they're supposed to do it hurts the clients."

Founded in 1981, the HCIL provides vocational training and other services for the disabled. It shut down in January 2014 after it ran out of money.

According to the indictment, Keawe embezzled funds from the charity on three different occasions between October 2011 and December 2013.

Keawe, who could not be reached for comment, is due in court Feb. 12. If convicted he faces up to ten years in prison.

This is not the first time that the nonprofit's management has been accused of wrongdoing.

In 2008, the state Senate Human Services and Housing Committee investigated the HCIL and then director Pat Lockwood for financial mismanagement.

As a result of the probe, the state Department of Human Services cutback its funding, said state Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, chair of the Senate Human Services Committee,.

"A number of years ago, it was brought to our attention by people who utilize the services as well as employees that there were things going on financially," she said.

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