Senate Investigative Committee to Unveil Report on University of Hawaii’s Fiscal and Management Oversight Problems

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The Senate Special Committee on Accountability will release a draft report summarizing the members’ findings on fiscal and management oversight problems at the University of Hawaii at its November 19 meeting.

Senate Vice President Donna Mercado Kim, chair of the committee, will hold the hearing beginning at 1:30 p.m. in conference room 211 at the Hawaii State Capitol. The hearing is open to the public, though no public testimony is accepted, and the entire event will be broadcast on Olelo Television.


The hearing notice issued by Kim said the Committee will briefly introduce and discuss its findings and recommendations resulting from two informational briefings during which the Committee heard testimony on the oversight, accountability, and transparency of the operational and financial management of the University of Hawaii.

During the Senate committee hearings held on September 20 and October 2, University officials admitted they’d been scammed out of $200,000 that was supposed to go to Stevie Wonder promoters in exchange for holding a fundraising concert at the University’s Manoa campus. The promoters turned out to be bogus and the University lost the money.

UH President MRC Greenwood subsequently put Athletic Director Jim Donovan and Stadium Manager Rich Sheriff on leave while the University investigated the botched event.

Donovan was subsequently replaced as athletic director, but after he threatened to sue the University, UH Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple offered Donovan a newly created $211,000 marketing and branding position in his department for three years, which Donovan accepted.

During the hearings, several witnesses from the University and the Board of Regents were called to testify. Legislators learned the University had not investigated the talent agency that it wired $200,000 to before sending the money. The UH also contracted a number of private attorneys and public relations personnel to help administrators prepare for the Senate hearings. Officials made several other questionable calls that led to the University spending some $1.2 million.

More has happened since the conclusion of the last hearing.

On Thursday, the FBI announced the indictment of two Mainland men – Marc Hubbard, 44, of Mecklenburg, N.C., and Sean Barriero, 44, of Miami – for their alleged involvement in the $200,000 “Wonder Blunder” fundraiser scam at the University of Hawaii. (See the full video of the press conference here)

On Thursday, a grand jury indicted Hubbard with wire fraud and Barriero pled guilty in federal court to illegal interstate transportation of money obtained through fraud.

According to the FBI, Hubbard falsely claimed to have connections with singer/songwriter Stevie Wonder and offered to arrange a fundraising concert by Wonder here that would benefit UH intercollegiate athletics programs. The arrangements were made through local entertainment promoter Bob Peyton, who was not charged in the indictment. Peyton separately lost $50,000 in the failed concert venture.

Barriero, acting at Hubbard’s direction, “falsely represented to a UH official” that $200,000 paid by UH as a deposit for the concert had been sent to Stevie Wonder. Instead, according to the federal government, the money was spent by Hubbard and Barriero on personal and business expenses.

Other members of the Senate Investigative Committee expected to participate in the November 19 hearing include Senator Jill N. Tokuda, Sen. Les Ihara, Jr., Sen. Sam Slom and Sen. Ronald D. Kouchi.