Ventura-Oliver Found Guilty in Debt Elimination Scheme
By Wendy Osher
A federal jury found two Maui residents guilty of conspiracy and mail fraud for offenses stemming from a “marketing of a debt elimination scheme” carried out through their involvement in the group known as Ko Hawaiʻi Pae ʻAina, the Registry and Hawaiʻiloa Foundation, according to the US Attorney’s Office in Hawaiʻi.
According to information released by the FBI and the Justice department, Mahealani Ventura-Oliver, 44, and Pilialoha K. Teves, 52,were found guilty on Tuesday of the charges for the period between 2008 and 2009.
The US Attorney’s office reports that after an 11-day trial, Ventura-Oliver was found guilty of the following: “conspiring to use fictitious financial instruments; 15 counts of mail fraud; one count of money laundering; one count of conspiring to submit false tax returns seeking $1.5 million in refunds from the IRS; and submitting one false tax return with her estranged husband, John Oliver, who pled guilty and testified at trial.”
Teves was convicted of conspiring to use fictitious financial instruments and of 12 counts of mail fraud, and was acquitted of three counts of mail fraud, the announcement said.
“Between 2008 and 2009, the group held weekly seminars on Maui, where Ventura-Oliver and others spoke about Hawaiian history and culture, and royal land patents,” said US Attorney for the District of Hawaiʻi, Florence T. Nakakuni, in a press release issued today.
“The evidence showed that, in return for the payment of a fee, the group offered to provide distressed homeowners with “bonds” and other documents that would pay off their mortgages and forestall collection efforts,” she said.
According to evidence produced in court, Nakakuni said, “The “bonds” purportedly directed the United States Treasury Department or the State of Hawaiʻi Comptroller of the Currency to make payments on behalf of the homeowners.”
Officials with the US Attorney’s Office say evidence presented at trial reveals that the Hawaiʻiloa Foundation collected approximately $468,000 from an estimated 200 individuals who went through the debt elimination process.
“Many of the individuals tried to use the bonds, but ultimately lost their homes through foreclosure, or had to renegotiate loans,” the announcement said.
The case against the two defendants also included claims that the Hawaiʻiloa Foundation promoted a tax program in which participants could “supposedly” seek refunds from the IRS for debts paid off with the purported bonds, Justice officials said.
Both Ventura-Oliver and Teves will be sentenced on February 10, 2014 by US District Judge J. Michael Seabright.
Ventura-Oliver faces a maximum sentence of five years on each of the conspiracy offenses, and the false claim offense; up to 20 years on each of the 15 mail fraud offenses; and up to 10 years on the money laundering offense, according to the US Attorney’s office.
Teves faces a maximum sentence of five years on the conspiracy charge, and up to 20 years on each of the 12 mail fraud offenses, with each charge also carrying a potential fine of up to $250,000, the announcement said.
A separate hearing is also planned in which the court will decide whether the US can forfeit property seized during the investigation, including: $84,000 in cash, more than $18,000 seized from bank accounts, gold coins worth more than $36,000, and vehicles, officials said.