By Wendy Osher
A federal grand jury indicted five Maui residents for their alleged involvement in a conspiracy to bilk others out of thousands of dollars, under promises of debt assistance. Those named in the 25-count indictment include Mahealani Ventura-Oliver, John D. Oliver, Pilialoha K. Teves, Leatrice Lehua Hoy, and Peter “Petro” Hoy.
The indictment claims the defendants marketed the debt assistance program by charging clients fees of between $1,500 and $10,000. Clients, in turn, were allegedly promised lessons on how to use bonds and other legal documents to pay their debts, forestall mortgage foreclosures and collections, by drawing on fictitious accounts.
Court documents allege the defendants collected $468,000 over at least two years beginning in 2008. In one of the counts, defendant, John D. Oliver is accused of making a false claim for a client for an income tax refund of $659,420.
According to court documents, the defendants were associated with groups based on Maui known as the Hawaiiloa Foundation, Ko Hawaii Pae Aina and The Registry. The Hawaiiloa Foundation conducted seminars offering to teach others about Hawaiian history and property rights.
Counts 2-16 of the indictment allege the defendants marketed the debt assistance program via the Internet, seminars, private meetings, and television and radio shows, during which they promised they could assist individuals with their debts. Clients were allegedly told that they had a special reserve with the United States Treasury, which could be used to zero out their debts.