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State briefs for April 16

Grandma’s deposition in Honolulu corruption case postponed

HONOLULU — A deposition for a 99-year-old woman prosecutors say is a key witness in a Honolulu corruption case was postponed because she was hospitalized during the weekend.

U.S. prosecutors want to question Florence Puana in a deposition because they are concerned her age and health might prevent her from testifying at a trial next month.

Puana is the grandmother of Katherine Kealoha, a former deputy Honolulu prosecutor. Kealoha and her now-retired police chief husband Louis Kealoha are accused of defrauding relatives, banks and children to maintain a lavish lifestyle.

Puana’s early testimony was scheduled to be taken Monday. Prosecutors say she was hospitalized Saturday and released Sunday. She’s also scheduled for heart-valve replacement surgery. A judge tentatively set deposition for April 30. It could happen sooner, depending on her health.

Maui inmates who escaped jail found and arrested

WAILUKU, Maui — Two inmates escaped from jail and over a razor wire-topped fence, prompting a manhunt around Maui before one of them turned himself in to police. The other remained missing Monday.

Troy Diego and Barret Paman escaped from the Maui Community Correctional Center at about 2:30 p.m. Sunday, according to authorities. That’s when staff members noticed a broken door in the back of a dorm building.

The facility went into a lockdown and staff members found clothing on the razor wire at the top of a perimeter fence, authorities said.

Paman, awaiting trial for burglary, theft and firearms charges, turned himself in to Maui police Sunday afternoon.

Maui police arrested Diego on Monday afternoon. He’s awaiting trial for theft and unauthorized entry into a vehicle.

Both men were being detained under the lowest level of custody, said Toni Schwartz, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Safety.

They will face an escape charge, she said.

Guam hospital receives additional $2.4M in Medicare funds

TAMUNING, Guam — A Guam hospital received a $2.4 million boost in Medicare funds following changes to the amount provided by the federal government for each eligible patient.

The Guam Memorial Hospital Authority received the extra funds after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services agreed to “rebase” patient rates.

There will be a 26 percent increase in the rate for nightly hospital stays, up to $1,646, effective Wednesday, according to Lillian Perez-Posadas, the hospital’s administrator.

The hospital expects the new rate will equal about $6 million each year for payments on Medicare, Medicaid and Medically Indigent Program accounts, officials said.

The hospital received $6.3 million in January for adjustments to fiscal 2014 to 2016 Medicare cost reports due to the financial restructuring, officials said, and anticipates another adjustment payment for its fiscal 2017 Medicare cost report.

The hospital each year bills about $43.9 million for services to Medicare patients, but is paid only about half of that amount, officials said.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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