State alleges Hawaiian scholar with a troubled past bilked distressed homeowners

Controversial Hawaiian Studies scholar faces potential new legal problems.

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Office of Consumer Protection has made a criminal referral for controversial Hawaiian scholar David Keanu Sai, saying he has committed a felony.

In a court filing, OCP attorney James Evers said Sai violated the state’s Mortgage Rescue Fraud Prevention Act by taking nearly $8,000 in advance fees from distressed homeowners.

“Sai’s conduct constitutes a felony and Sai’s criminal wrongdoing has been referred to the proper criminal authorities for investigation," Evers wrote.

The criminal referral came from a foreclosure case involving a property in Ewa Beach. The owners lost their home.

“This is just ... one in a long line of scams that take advantage of people who find themselves in desperate financial situations," said longtime investigative reporter and former Common Cause Director Ian Lind.

"It’s really a shame.”

Sai, a lecturer in Hawaiian Studies at the Windward Community College, has argued that the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893 has rendered land titles invalid.

Sai’s attorney said he was not aware of the criminal referral and declined comment.

This isn’t the first time Sai has gotten into legal trouble.

Nearly two decades ago, he was sentenced to five years of probation for theft. At the time, he tried to convince distressed homeowners to stop making mortgage payments.

“Outrageous smear," Sai said during a presentation in the Maui County Council chambers last month.

“When you speak the truth you get hit. I was just speaking the truth.”

The University of Hawaii said Sai continues to be employed at WCC.

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