FBI: UH Labeled “Victim,” Arrest Made in “Wonder Blunder”

November 8, 2012, 12:21 PM HST · Updated November 8, 1:24 PM
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UH Athletic Director Jim Donovan was among those who testified before a Special Committee on Accountability after the ordeal became public. File photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

Criminal charges were announced today relating to the University of Hawaii’s failed Stevie Wonder Concert that has since gained the nickname “Wonder Blunder” in public circles.

FBI officials in Hawai’i say the defendant, Marc Hubbard, was arrested by the FBI in Charlotte, North Carolina, pursuant to an arrest warrant issued in the District of Hawai’i. He was being held in federal custody at last report, awaiting a detention hearing on Tuesday.

Another defendant named in the case, Sean Barriero, was not arrested. FBI authorities say he will self-report to Hawai’i US District Court today for his arraignment at 2 p.m. before US Magistrate Judge Kevin Chang.

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A federal grand jury in Honolulu yesterday indicted Hubbard, 44, with wire fraud in connection with the apparent concert scam. The grand jury also charged Barriero, 44, of Miami, with a related offense of transporting $200,000 they allege was taken by fraud.

The Honolulu FBI was contacted by the University of Hawaii on July 11, 2012 regarding what they say appeared to be a fraud involving the planned August 18th Stevie Wonder concert.

The indictment further alleges that in July 2012, an authorized agent for Stevie Wonder reported that neither he nor his management had any knowledge of the concert. They related that none of the funds were transmitted to Stevie Wonder or his management team.

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“The FBI followed logical investigative leads with the goal of tracing the missing money and collecting evidence to support criminal charges,” said Honolulu FBI Special Agent in Charge Vida Bottom.

Bottom said a lot of the public interest and coverage in this case focused on what went wrong at the University of Hawai’i, but stressed that, “From day one, we regarded the university as an institutional crime victim and focused our investigation on the suspects who received the money.”

“Understanding that,” Bottom said, “I am comfortable saying that the FBI found no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing at the University of Hawai’i pertaining to the Stevie Wonder concert. In fact, the university officials we spoke to during this investigation were open, honest, and available to us – without precondition – throughout our investigation.”

If convicted, the FBI says Hubbard faces up to 20 years in prison and Barriero up to 10 years.

The charges in the indictment are merely accusations and each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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