State: family claims ownership of Waimanalo land using fake deeds

State: family claims ownership of Waimanalo land using fake deeds
Published: Apr. 17, 2015 at 9:24 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 17, 2015 at 9:31 PM HST
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WAIMANALO, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Attorney General's office said a family that claims to own hundreds of acres of state land in Waimanalo is using bogus land deeds to prove their case. And those deeds are examples of how easy it is to fake documents claiming to prove property ownership in Hawaii.

The family of Windyceslau Lorenzo put up no trespassing signs on the property it claims to own in Waimanalo, off Waikupanaha street. That's land the state said it owns where the University of Hawaii is planning a hemp farm.

"We have deeds to specify the areas for the 400 acres," said Austin Lorenzo, a family spokesman, last Saturday.

Their deed claimed Windyceslau Lorenzo owns the land because he is the fifth great grandson of King Kamehameha I, the Hawaiian king who united the islands in 1810.

"It's a legal binding document," said Austin Lorenzo.

But the state Attorney General's office said their deed is bogus and is one of more than 40 fake deeds the Lorenzo family has filed with the Bureau of Conveyances, using them to harass lawful tenants.

Nicki Ann Thompson, the Bureau of Conveyances registrar, said,

"The purpose of the Bureau of Conveyances is public notice. So that document would be viewable and available for all public to see and to act on or question."

Thompson said as long as a deed lists the grantor and grantee, the proper address and is signed by a notary public, it's accepted into the system.

"The documents are not reviewed for the truth or the facts in the document. They're just reviewed for form when provided to the Bureau of Conveyances," Thompson said.

The bureau records 1,200 to 1,500 documents daily and leaves any disputes to the courts.

"Occasionally, a party will say this party should not have been recorded or it was nothing that should affect their property or their person, and then it is taken to the Judiciary. Any of the courts in the state of Hawaii would have to adjudicate the determination of the document as real," Thompson said.

Thompson said only a handful of bogus property deeds get thrown out by the courts every year.

The state Attorney General's office is asking a state judge to throw out the Lorenzo family's deed to the property, pay $5,000 in damages and bar them from filing deeds for the next five years without getting a court order first. A hearing on that request is scheduled in late May.

Reached for comment, Austin Lorenzo declined an interview on the advice of his attorney.

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