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For Friday, June 17, 2011

By Star-Advertiser staff


Ex-travel agent enters pleas in thefts

A former Chinatown travel agent accused of bilking dozens of clients out of thousands of dollars by failing to deliver airline tickets pleaded no contest in state court Thursday to 49 counts of second-degree theft.

Ligaya Baldugo, former owner of Coloma's Travel Service, faces up to five years in prison for each of the theft charges when she is sentenced in October.

Baldugo entered her no-contest pleas without the benefit of a plea agreement. She had been scheduled to stand trial next week.

The state said Baldugo stole about $130,000 from 49 clients. Customers said they paid Baldugo thousands of dollars for airline tickets to the Philippines only to find out later, including on the scheduled date of their departure, that they had no reservations.

State to end Medicare co-pay subsidy

State officials are discontinuing a program that helps low-income seniors pay for Medicare prescriptions.

The Department of Human Services announced Thursday that, effective July 1, the department will no longer subsidize Medicare Part D co-payments under the program called the State Pharmacy Assistance Program.

The program began in 2007, with the state planning to cover its costs through a special fund. But officials say money was never allocated to the fund.

Ending the program will affect about 43,500 Hawaii residents, who have monthly co-payments of about $6.

Nursing facility patients with stays exceeding 30 days and individuals receiving home- and community-based services are not required to make co-payments.

Stabber gets life in prison

A 22-year-old Maui man was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for stabbing a housekeeper at a resort last year.

The Maui News reported Thursday that Krenston Ako-Kealoha of Kihei was ordered to serve at least 15 years of the term before being eligible for parole.

He pleaded no contest to second-degree attempted murder of a 62-year-old housekeeper at the Worldmark at Maui resort.

Prosecutors say she was stabbed six times in the neck during the unprovoked attack.

Ako-Kealoha apologized to the victim in court Wednesday, blaming the attack on drugs.

The stabbing left the victim partially paralyzed. She did not attend the sentencing.

Motorcyclist dies in crash

A 29-year-old Haiku man was killed Wednesday when a motorcycle he was driving collided with a tanker truck on Maui’s Haleakala Highway near Kahului Airport.

Maui police said Kaula Kaauamo was traveling east on Haleakala Highway near Aalele Street when he tried to make a turn and collided with the truck at 7:07 p.m.

The driver of the truck was not injured.

Kaauamo was not wearing a helmet, police said.

Flags will dip for Yamashiro

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has ordered that the U.S. and Hawaii flags at state buildings be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Saturday in memory of former Hawaii County Mayor Stephen K. Yamashiro, who died May 24 at age 69.

Abercrombie said Thursday in a news release Yamashiro “played an essential role in transforming the Hawaii County economy from its sole dependency on the sugar industry to other diversified industries such as agriculture, astronomy and tourism.”

Parks free tuesday

National parks nationwide, including three in Hawaii, will waive entrance fees on Tuesday in celebration of the first day of summer. Admission will be waived at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Haleakala National Park and Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. Other fee-free days are Sept. 24 and Nov. 11-13.

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