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Big Island University CFO Sentenced for Wire Fraud

January 9, 2018, 8:21 AM HST
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Pablo M. Rivera, 42, formerly a resident of Hawai‘i and Colorado, was sentenced to 115 months in federal prison on Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, for committing a wire fraud offense by which he obtained approximately $3,096,241 from the University of the Nations on Hawai‘i Island.

District of Hawai‘i United States Attorney Kenji M. Price said that according to documents filed in this case and information presented in court, Rivera served as chief financial officer for UOFN from July 2014 to January 2017.

During that time, UOFN had construction projects on its campus and invoices were sent to Rivera for his approval.

According to the Criminal Information, Rivera created a scheme under which he persuaded a contractor to allow him to have signatory authority over its account. Rivera then created and submitted false
invoices to UOFN, approved them and took money from the contractor’s account once funds were transferred by UOFN.

Rivera pled guilty to wire fraud in May 2017.

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At yesterday’s sentencing, Senior U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway found that Rivera abused a position of trust, and took advantage of others to steal millions from UOFN.

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Judge Mollway noted that Rivera did not need to defraud UOFN to make ends meet, and had used the fraud proceeds to buy a gold mine in Africa, stocks and diamonds, and to pay for spa treatments.

Judge Mollway also found that, when the government suggested he was hiding diamonds, Rivera submitted a fraudulent and altered email to the Court, which constituted an attempt to obstruct justice.

Citing the need to protect the public from Rivera’s future crimes, Judge Mollway sentenced him to 115 months in jail, which will be followed by a 36-month term of supervised release. Rivera was also ordered to pay UOFN $3,128,194 in restitution, which included the university’s losses and costs of investigation.

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Rivera will also be ordered to forfeit various assets and accounts traceable to his fraud scheme.

Rivera has been in custody at the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu since December 2017 and remains there pending designation of a facility on the mainland.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Nammar.

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