By JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER
HONOLULU — A North Carolina man accused of scamming the University of Hawaii out of $200,000 in a botched Stevie Wonder concert can’t get a fair trial in Hawaii because of negative publicity over what’s been dubbed the “Wonder Blunder,” according to his motion seeking a venue change.
Marc Hubbard’s attorneys filed a motion seeking to move his trial from Honolulu to North Carolina or Florida. A hearing on the motion is scheduled Monday.
Authorities say Hubbard, a club and concert promoter from Waxhaw, N.C., claimed he had connections to secure Wonder for an athletics department fundraiser last year.
The school paid a $200,000 deposit, began selling tickets and later learned neither the singer nor his representatives authorized the concert. Thousands of tickets had to be refunded, leading to embarrassment for the school, hearings by state lawmakers and an FBI investigation.
“Every headline and television news story carried negative connotations of the case matter,” the motion states. “Indeed the term ‘Wonder Blunder’ has morphed into a new negative adjective used by individuals publicly to describe a debacle.”
Hubbard pleaded not guilty to a wire fraud charge. He is on home detention on $200,000 bond, with travel restricted to North Carolina, South Carolina and Hawaii.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Osborne Jr. wrote in a response opposing the motion that the government is trying to avoid some witness travel by using video depositions or stipulations.
“All of the documentary evidence and exhibits have been gathered in Hawaii and the change of venue would require them to be shipped to some new location,” Osborne wrote.
The amount of documents in the case is minimal, defense attorney William Harrison said Friday.
Another man has pleaded guilty to transporting money as part of the deal. Sean Barriero, a British national who lives in Miami, is cooperating with prosecutors and is awaiting sentencing.