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‘We are not going to see that money again’ K ARLEANNE M ATTHEWS Senior Staff Writer With many details still unclear about who is to blame for the $200,000 Stevie Wonder concert loss, Senate Special Committee on Accountability member Sen. Sam Slom headed to Florida to investigate directly. “I am absolutely assured at this point that there was a scam. But to say it was a sophisticated scam, as the university president maintained, is ludicrous,” said Slom when he reported back in an Oct. 2 hearing. “Anyone that would have done any checking whatsoever – which would have been the very basics in due diligence – would have determined that this agency [Epic Talent] is not what it purports to be.” A website previously claimed that Epic Talent represented Stevie Wonder, among other such stars as Katy Perry, Adele and Taylor Swift. Until representatives of Wonder contacted the university to say that the performer had no knowledge of the event, local organizers thought that everything was on track. But Slom expressed frustration that no university officials more thoroughly investigated the agency in question. “A nyone who would have looked at the website … would have found out it was very amateurish, had a lot of typos and would have questioned its authenticity,” Slom said. The address given on the website, in North Miami Gardens, is a residence in a run-down district. Slom noted that the home in question is the listed address for not only Epic Talent, but also a mattress company and a painting company. A second address, in nearby Miramar, Fla., was also given on the website. This address belongs to a UPS drop site in a strip mall.

ʻR E D F L AG S ʼ

Slom also attempted to gather information at an Orlando branch of Bank of America, to which the wire transfer was sent, but the branch manager refused to discuss the issue or provide related documentation. Slom speculated that she is aware of the ongoing investigation. “There were so many red fl ags,” Slom said. “It was just incredible to me that the university was so willing to send money.” Earlier in the hearing, Rich Sheriff, arena manager of Stan Sheriff Center, said that the wire transfer was pushed through because promoter Bob Peyton felt the deal might fall through because a check would be too slow. “It is my belief … we are not going to see that money again,” Slom concluded. “The real scam … is on the taxpayers of the State of Hawai‘i. And I think it is incumbent upon the university … to help the state resolve these kinds of issues so that they don’t don t happen again.” again.

NICHOLAS SMITH / KA LEO O HAWAI‘I

Sen. Sam Slom emphasized that his investigation – which earned him the nickname “Sherlock Slom” from committee chair Sen. Donna Mercado Kim – was not financed by taxpayer funds.


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