HUD seeks $7.9M in dispute with city
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said it wants $7.9 million back from the city and a Central Oahu nonprofit unless they can prove the program is in compliance with rules on how the money should be spent.
Recent monitoring of the Wahiawa-based ORI Anuenue Hale program by HUD called into question whether the money is being used properly to aid seniors and those with severe disabilities. HUD also believes a wellness center was being underutilized.
“What they’ve told us is that the city and ORI need to repay the total $7.9 million unless the city takes immediate corrective action within the next 30 days,” city Managing Director Douglas Chin said Tuesday.
Chin said the city immediately suspended further payment and began discussions with ORI.
The city first entered an agreement with ORI to provide services in 2001, Chin said.
ORI has refused to disclose some of its records to HUD, citing the privacy of its clients, he said.
The city is “hoping it’s a bookkeeping matter” but is looking into the situation further, Chin said.
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Suspect struck woman, hotel worker says
WAIMEA, HAWAII » A Washington state woman killed at a Big Island resort last month was struck on her head with a large piece of granite tile from the room’s coffee table, a housekeeping worker testified Tuesday.
During a district court preliminary hearing for Philip Howard Zimmerman, 46, of Bellevue, Wash., hotel employees identified him as the man they saw when they rushed to a fifth-floor room at the Fairmont Orchid at Mauna Lani Resort after guests reported hearing screaming May 23.
“I heard a woman screaming ‘help, help’ and a lot of banging noises,” testified Ernest Valenzuela, who works in the resort’s housekeeping department.
Valenzuela climbed onto the room’s balcony from an adjoining room and saw through a sliding glass door the woman lying in a hallway. He said he saw her being hit on the head with a 2-foot-long piece of granite tile he recognized from coffee tables in the rooms.
Zimmerman, also known as Howard Philip Zimmerman, is being held on $2 million bail. He is charged with second-degree murder, kidnapping, first-degree terroristic threatening and second-degree criminal property damage.
An autopsy showed that the woman, Susan Brockert, 44, also of Bellevue, died from multiple blunt-force and sharp-force trauma to her head and neck, Hawaii County police said.
Zimmerman and Brockert were staying together at the resort.
Resort security supervisor John Overbeck testified Tuesday he couldn’t find Brockert’s pulse after workers kicked the door open. He said he saw her lying in a bathrobe; Zimmerman was wearing only underwear.
He said he blocked the door to prevent Zimmerman from leaving and harming others.