Hilo Woman Accused of Embezzling $628K from Charter School

January 29, 2020, 12:11 PM HST (Updated January 29, 2020, 12:13 PM)
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A Hilo woman has been accused of embezzling thousands of dollars from a public charter school in Pāhoa and now faces a federal wire fraud charge.

According to court documents filed in US District Court on Jan. 27, 2020, Kelaukila Estabilio stole over $628,000 dollars from Kua O Ka Lā Public Charter School between December 2012 and January 2019.

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Estabilio worked at the school from 2006 to January 2019 where she was employed as the school’s financial officer and maintained the school’s bank accounts. Court documents indicate the money was used for her family’s personal expenses, including paying off credit cards.

“To conceal her embezzlement, Estabilio made materially false representations by falsifying the school’s Quickbook financial records, purposely did not follow the school’s financial procedures and policies that she had helped establish and did not disclose her spending of the school’s funds on personal expenses to anyone who worked at the school,” court documents indicate.

The campus of Kua O Ka La was destroyed in the 2018 Kīlauea eruption. The school is up and running at a new location in Hilo.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat. Tiffany is an award-winning journalist, receiving recognition from the Utah-Idaho-Spokane Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists. Tiffany grew up on the Big Island and is passionate about telling the community’s stories.

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