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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 3, 2002

Neighbor Island briefs

Advertiser Staff and News Services


Ex-official gets jail term in theft

KEALAKEKUA, Hawai'i — A former state harbors official accused of stealing nearly $30,000 was sentenced yesterday to server six monthss of a one-year jail term and to perform 750 hours of community service.

Jeffrey S. Bearman, 44, already paid restitution of $21,821 in false overtime claims and $7,144 in state airline and car rental vouchers. Investigators said Bearman, who at the time was district director of the Big Island's small boat harbors, sold some of the coupons to a fellow worker and gave others to his mother and girlfriend.

He was indicted on five theft charges in October 2001 and entered a no-contest plea in January.

Kona Circuit Judge Ronald Ibarra yesterday agreed to allow Bearman to serve his sentence intermittently to accommodate his new job.

Action sought in fuel spills

KEALAKEKUA, Hawai'i — A state judge today is expected to take up a lawsuit that would force the state Board of Land and Natural Resources to protect ocean users from further fuel spills following the sinking of a sailboat in Keauhou Bay last week.

Charter fishing boat captain Patrick Cunningham filed the suit and said he was appalled when the sailboat sank and neither the Coast Guard nor the state Boating Division did anything when the vessel began leaking diesel fuel. He said he is not seeking damages from the state, just recognition that boating authorities failed to protect the nearshore areas of the West Hawai'i coastline.

A Coast Guard official in Honolulu declined to comment on the lawsuit, and state officials did not respond to calls seeking comment.

Cunningham, who heads the Keauhou Bay Community Watch, and his attorney, Robert Kim, said the Coast Guard and the state both lack equipment to deal with fuel spills in Big Island waters.

The sailboat was hauled away by its owner four days after it sank.

Correction: Former state Big Island small-boat harbors official Jeffrey S. Bearman, 44, was ordered Tuesday to serve six months of a one-year jail term and to perform 750 hours of community service for a theft conviction. The sentence was incorrectly reported in an earlier version of this story.