Felony theft charges dismissed against ousted Kalihi charter school principal
A state judge has permanently dismissed felony theft charges against the ousted director of the now-defunct Halau Lokahi Public Charter School because the state took too long to take the case to trial.
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A state judge has permanently dismissed felony theft charges against the ousted director of the now-defunct Halau Lokahi Public Charter School
because the state took
too long to take the case to trial.
The state Attorney General charged Laara Allbrett in October 2017 with four counts of second-degree theft for expenditures she made using school money. Each charge is a class C felony punishable by up
to five years in prison.
The theft charges were the culmination of a nearly three-year investigation into more than $101,000 of questionable school payments and purchases made in 2013 and 2014. The expenditures included $11,747 paid to
Allbrett’s daughter, Jewal; $6,760 to a psychic healer on Kauai; and $21,347 to someone for services ranging from plumbing and public relations to office maintenance. The purchases also included $6,618 for food supplies from Costco, Sam’s Club, Foodland, Walmart and 7-Eleven, even though the Kalihi school did not provide food services to its students.
In the end, the state charged Allbrett with theft for using the school’s debit card to purchase a healing light pad for her son,
Varner, for $462; for medical treatment at the Holistic Medical Center of Hawaii for $360; for a three-month supply of a health supplement for $427; and to pay the $940 round-trip airfare for Allbrett and some family members to attend Varner’s graduation at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.
The deputy attorney general who was handling the case informed Allbrett’s lawyer in November 2017 that he was going to be late in handing over the investigation material because there were more than 45,000 pages. The deputy retired at the end of December 2017 without delivering any of the material.
Allbrett’s trial was originally scheduled for the second week of January 2018. Six days before the trial date the state declared it was not ready, so the court rescheduled it to the first week of March. One week before the March trial date the state said it was still not ready because the new deputy assigned to the case only had it for three weeks.
Based on the state’s last declaration, the court rescheduled the trial to April 30, 2018, two days beyond the time required for the state to provide Allbrett her constitutional right to a speedy trial. On that date Allbrett’s lawyer filed papers asking the court to dismiss the case.
On April 23, 2019, nearly a year after Allbrett’s lawyer made the request, now-
retired Circuit Judge Glenn Kim signed an order dismissing all four charges. He left open the possibility for the state to refile the airfare theft charge but closed the door on the three other charges.
Kim reasoned in the order that because the dollar threshold for second-degree theft changed in 2016 to more than $750 from more than $300, the three charges no longer qualify as felonies.
The deadline for the state to appeal Kim’s order has passed, and so far, it has yet to recharge the theft count involving the round-trip
The Department of the
Attorney General and Allbrett’s lawyer did not respond to repeated requests for comment.