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State briefs for July 13

Lawyers urge court to deny Hawaii’s travel ban request

HONOLULU (AP) — U.S. Department of Justice attorneys are urging a judge to deny Hawaii’s renewed attempt to expand the list of relatives exempt from President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson last week denied Hawaii’s request to clarify which relatives are exempt from the ban. Hawaii appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which dismissed the appeal and said while the judge can’t clarify the Supreme Court’s order, he can interpret it.

Hawaii then renewed its request with Watson in a different form.

The government filed court documents Tuesday opposing Hawaii’s latest motion, saying the state is merely repackaging a previously rejected clarification request. The government says it’s up to the Supreme Court to provide guidance.

Watson could rule this week.

Seal bites, injures wildlife staffer on Midway Atoll

HONOLULU (AP) — A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee was bitten by an endangered Hawaiian monk seal while swimming at Midway Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Megan Nagel said Tuesday that the incident happened July 6 on Midway’s North Beach in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

The employee, who is not being named, was swimming in a stretch of ocean open to staff for recreational use. The area was adjacent to a closed beach where a mother monk seal was nursing her pup.

While in the water, the employee was bitten several times and now is recovering from her injuries. Staff access to all beaches was closed until the end of the pupping season in response to the attack.

American Samoa woman charged with tax fraud

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A 54-year-old American Samoan woman suspected of filing $1.3 million in fraudulent U.S. tax refund claims was arrested.

Coriana Ifopo is charged with 28 counts of making false claims to a government agency for tax years 2013-15.

She was arrested Tuesday in Honolulu. Assistant U.S. Attorney Aunnie Steward says Ifopo will be prosecuted in Alaska, where Ifopo claimed some of her tax filers lived.

Online court records do not list her attorney.

An indictment says Ifopo falsified tax return forms, claiming more than 200 American Samoa residents were living “off-island” and entitled to refunds and earned income credits. Prosecutors say she listed false dependents and false withholdings.


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