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State briefs for January 9

State lawmakers join forces against offshore drilling

PORTLAND, Maine — A group of nine Democratic state lawmakers from different coastal states announced Tuesday that they are going to use their coming legislative sessions to try to block attempts at offshore drilling.

The lawmakers’ announcement came as new and re-elected legislators were entering office throughout the country after an election that saw high turnover in some states, and the group said it wants to take advantage of new political dynamics that could favor environmental bills. The announcement also came about a year after Trump’s administration announced plans to expand drilling.

The lawmakers, who are affiliated with nonprofit advocacy group National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, said their bills will seek to limit the possibility of drilling off their coasts. State legislatures are limited in what they can do to stop drilling beyond state waters, but the lawmakers said they’re showing a united stand against the practice.

Lawmakers involved in the effort represent Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon and Rhode Island. Some of the lawmakers said they would seek outright bans on drilling, while others said they would look to pass bills that restrict it or do more to hold companies liable for spills.

Ex-Honolulu police chief’s home for sale during foreclosure

HONOLULU — The home of a retired Honolulu police chief and his former prosecutor wife is for sale while their lender forecloses on the property and the couple faces corruption-related charges.

The asking price for Louis and Katherine Kealoha’s Hawaii Kai home is $1.3-million.

A foreclosure lawsuit alleges the Kealohas defaulted on a $1-million mortgage. The lawsuit was filed last year, after a federal grand jury indicted the Kealohas, accusing them of framing Katherine Kealoha’s uncle in an attempt to discredit him in a family, financial dispute. They pleaded not guilty.

A judge allowed the lender to sell the four-bedroom home in Hawaii Kai, an upscale neighborhood.

The listing says the home “captures island living” with custom travertine floors, renovated kitchen and heated pool.

An open house is scheduled for Sunday.

Ex-Honolulu band teacher sentenced in sex assault of teen

HONOLULU — A former band teacher at a Honolulu private school convicted of sexually assaulting a teenage girl was sentenced Monday to 90 days in jail.

Peter Rucci, 63, pleaded guilty in October to charges of second- and third-degree sexual assault.

The victim, who was 15 when the assault occurred in June 2017, gave a statement to the court.

“He was a phenomenal mentor, and he wreaked havoc on my life,” the victim said.

The victim’s mother also addressed the court.

“She has been derailed. Her course has been changed. She was very courageous to make Rucci’s crimes public,” the victim’s mother said.

Rucci declined to speak in court Monday.

He was initially charged with nine sexual-assault counts. The other counts were dropped after he reached a plea deal with prosecutors.

Rucci became band director at Damien Memorial School in August 2017. He was fired in November 2017 when the allegations surfaced.

The assault happened before he was employed, and it did not involve any Damien students, school officials said.

Rucci previously taught at Honolulu Waldorf School and at Le Jardin Academy in Kailua.

Rucci will be on probation for five years. He also must register as a sex offender and take part in the state’s sex offender treatment program.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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