Filing seeks back rent, other fees from WMSA

WAILUKU – Legal action is being taken against Wailuku Main Street Association Inc./Tri-Isle Main Street Resource Center for nearly $10,000 of unpaid back rent and other fees, according to a filing in 2nd Circuit Court.

In the court filing on Dec. 27, Starr Properties LLC is seeking $9,880.42 from Wailuku Main Street Association Inc./Tri-Isle Main Street Resource Center, which has not paid rent and other fees from October through Jan. 1.

For nearly a year, WMSA has been under investigation for possible violations of Hawaii’s nonprofit laws. In October, county officials terminated the remainder of a $243,000 grant to the organization, following repeated warning letters seeking compliance with requests for information that went unfulfilled.

The nonprofit organization had its offices in Unit 1 at 1942 Main St., which is owned by Starr Properties. It has been sitting vacant since WMSA’s departure.

Jonathan Starr, Starr Properties’ sole proprietor, said: “They never gave us what we consider proper notice” for vacating the lease.

WMSA had a lease that ran through Jan. 31, 2014.

“The space is still vacant. It’s still sitting there. We’d like to get another tenant in there who can use the space and pay rent. It’s really hurting us,” Starr said.

WMSA Board Chairman Tom Cannon could not immediately be reached for comment on the property matter Monday afternoon.

Throughout the state attorney general’s investigation, Cannon has maintained that WMSA has done nothing wrong. He added that WMSA has a record of clear yearly independent audits.

The organization has received more than $2.2 million in grants from Maui County since 2002.

In August, a report from the state attorney general’s office detailed its initial investigation into WMSA’s operations, citing such findings as nepotism, lobbying in violation of its grant contract, conflicts of interest, inaccuracies with its IRS Form 990, little evidence of program services and a “terribly confused” structure of governance.

Late last year, the state attorney general’s office issued a subpoena for more financial documents from the association, including minutes of meetings, correspondence and emails, and an order to have Cannon give sworn testimony. When WMSA refused to comply, the state attorney general’s office went to court and got a 2nd Circuit Court judge to order the agency to release the documents and to have Cannon testify.

Supervising state Deputy Attorney General Hugh Jones of the Tax & Charities Division said via email that he has received the documents the state has asked for and that Cannon’s testimony is being scheduled.

Starr said that his property management company, Peake & Levoy, had hired an attorney to claim the back rent and fees from Wailuku Main Street Association.

In court records, a letter from Peake & Levoy was sent to Cannon on Nov. 13, noting the organization’s late rent and late fees. It said that if the full amount due at that time, which was $5,307, was not paid within 15 days of the letter, legal action would begin.

An official with the property management company could not be immediately reached for comment Monday afternoon. The attorney named on the court records referred comment to the management company.

According to online records, no court appearances have been made in the case.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at