Former Executive Director of Non-Profit Organization Pleads Guilty to Federal Theft Charge
HONOLULU—Mitchell “Kimo” Keawe, age 50, pled guilty today in federal court to embezzling money from the Honolulu Centers for Independent Living (HCIL), a defunct non-profit organization which operated in Hawaii and Guam and which Keawe previously headed as its executive director. HCIL’s mission was to help disabled persons learn to live independently.
Florence T. Nakakuni, United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii, said that in an indictment filed on January 28, 2015, Keawe was charged with offenses involving the theft of money from HCIL, an organization receiving federal funding. During court proceedings today, Keawe pled to one count, and admitted embezzling more than $153,643.80 of HCIL’s funds between October 1, 2012 and September 30, 2013. Keawe admitted taking the money by using his debit card for personal charges, and to obtain cash withdrawals which were not authorized. Keawe also admitted causing HCIL to issue checks to him, for money which he was not authorized, including (1) paychecks for periods during which he was already being paid via direct deposits, and (2) reimbursement checks issued based on Keawe’s false claims that he had incurred expenses on behalf of HCIL.
Court records indicate that Keawe served as HCIL’s executive director from August 2010 until December 1, 2013, during which time he was an authorized signatory on HCIL’s checking account, and had a debit card to use for organizational expenses.
Keawe will face a maximum jail term of ten years, a fine of up to $250,000 and restitution when he is sentenced on October 1, 2015, by Senior United States District Judge Helen Gillmor.
The case was investigated by the United States Department of Education, Office of Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the State of Hawaii, Department of Human Services, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Tong.