‘Wonder Blunder’ defendant gets new trial date
HONOLULU (AP) — A new trial date has been set for a North Carolina concert promoter accused of scamming the University of Hawaii out of $200,000 by saying that he was arranging for Stevie Wonder to appear in concert.
Jury selection is now scheduled to start April 9 at U.S. District Court in Honolulu. It was previously slated for late January. Attorneys for promoter Marc Hubbard and prosecutors agreed to the change last week.
Hubbard entered a not guilty plea in November. He was released on $200,000 bail secured by property he owns.
He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Authorities say Hubbard convinced a local promoter he had connections with a former Motown Records executive who could secure Wonder for an August fundraiser.
The school paid $200,000 as a deposit and began selling advance tickets, but later learned neither the singer nor his representatives authorized the concert. It hasn’t been able to recover the money.
Another man accused of transporting the money as part of the deal has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors. Sean Barriero, a 44-year-old British national who lives in Miami, is scheduled to be sentenced on May 2.
A special state Senate committee which investigated the university’s handling of the bungled concert — which has come to be known as the “Wonder Blunder” — said the incident tarnished the university’s reputation both nationally and within the state.
The committee said no one at the university looked into whether the agent was an authorized representative of the singer. The lawmakers also faulted a lack of oversight and communication in the school’s athletic department, general counsel and disbursing office.
A University of Hawaii task force reporting to the Board of Regents said in November the school allowed itself to be deceived because those involved in the financial transactions lacked judgment and didn’t take responsibility.
The university reassigned athletic director Jim Donovan after the failed concert came to light. Donovan left the university altogether in mid-December to become the athletic director at Cal State Fullerton.
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