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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Ex-director at health center gets 13 months

By Ken Kobayashi
Advertiser Courts Writer

The former executive director of the Waimanalo Health Center was sentenced yesterday to 13 months in prison and ordered to repay nearly $100,000 she stole from the facility.

U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway sentenced Radine Kawahine Kamakea-Ohelo, 53, who pleaded guilty last year to embezzling the money for her personal use.

Kamakea-Ohelo, who helped found the facility serving lower-income residents in the Windward community, told the judge the case has been a "humbling experience."

She said she learned who her true friends were and has come to understand "betrayal."

Mollway said she recognized that Kamakea-Ohelo received letters of support for her kindness, service and devotion, but the judge said she was concerned about letters that suggested Kamakea-Ohelo was treated unfairly.

"The betrayal here was her betrayal of the Waimanalo Health Center," Mollway said.

The judge said Kamakea-Ohelo's theft over five years hampered the ability of the center to serve the residents. The judge ordered Kamakea-Ohelo to pay $99,581 in restitution.

Kamakea-Ohelo was fired from the post after Sen. Fred Hemmings, R-25th (Kailua, Waimanalo, Hawai'i Kai) held a news conference in December 2002 and said Kamakea-Ohelo had misused government money. She was later charged with the federal theft counts.

Jeff Arakaki, Kamakea-Ohelo's lawyer, asked for a lighter sentence, citing his client's health problems.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Les Osborne said Kamakea-Ohelo stole from the facility that serves the community in which she lived. After she left, the center was able to purchase equipment and hire more staffers and give others raises, Osborne said.

The attorneys and Kamakea-Ohelo declined to comment on the sentence.

Kamakea-Ohelo, who is free on bond, was ordered to start serving her sentence March 28.

Reach Ken Kobayashi at kkobayashi@honoluluadvertiser.com.