A local philanthropic organization formed to reduce homelessness may never get on its feet following a recent bankruptcy case involving its first major donor, a one-time violent criminal turned entrepreneur.
Blake Tek Yoon, who was sentenced in California in 1992 following a botched murder attempt, had announced plans to sell his multimillion-dollar Kahala home to help finance the Hawaii’s Forgotten Families Foundation.
But Yoon failed to appear in a court-ordered meeting with his creditors regarding bankruptcy settlements Tuesday over the home he has now sold. And one of the foundation’s directors is unsure if the money will ever come through.
The foundation planned to one day build a 300-unit subdivision to house working homeless families with mortgage payments of just $450 a month. Yoon planned to give $200,000 to the foundation to help it get started.
“I don’t know what he’s going to do, or whether or not he’s going to come across with the money,” Jim Matichuk, owner of Hawaii Architects Inc. and a foundation director, said, adding that he last heard from Yoon last month.
Attorneys involved in the bankruptcy case apparently haven’t heard much from Yoon either. His legal counsel withdrew in December, and he’s missed at least one other meeting with the creditors since then. Yoon’s last known whereabouts may be in Quezon City in Manila, the Philippines, according to the court record.
Civil Beat attempted to reach Yoon, but his phone number was disconnected. His former attorney also did not respond to a request for comment.
Two years ago, Yoon held a gala at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel to unveil his plans for the foundation. Some lawmakers invited to the gala walked away skeptical of the plans.
Now, Matichuk said that the foundation’s board of directors has been looking for land to build on and working on get nonprofit status, which would allow it to begin collecting major donations.
“We are looking, and we don’t want to be accepting money until we know what we’re doing,” Matichuck said.
Whether or not Yoon could still come up with money from the sale of his home is also uncertain.
His Kahala property on Kulamanu Street was foreclosed on by Wells Fargo in 2009. He staved off the foreclosure by filing multiple bankruptcies since then, Richard Yanagi, the appointed trustee in the case, wrote in a court filing.
The Kulamanu street home was finally sold last November to a Mapunapuna business owner for $1.9 million, far below its assessed value of nearly $2.3 million. Yoon had hoped to get $7 million from the sale.
The Hawaii Free Press first reported the sale of Yoon’s home in February.
The sale, which was executed in February, went to pay off a $1.5 million loan Yoon owed to Wells Fargo along with another $240,000 loan owed to Ami Shafrir, former owner of a sex-call business.
Herbert Hudson, founder of the Southern California restaurant chain Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, also tried to get into the bankruptcy settlement for a $539,000 loan to Yoon.
Hudson opposed the sale of the Kahala home in court filings because he could not recoup his loan, given the sale amount. Mark Estes, another California man who loaned Yoon $200,000, also opposed the sale because there were no carve-outs for him, according to documents filed by Shafrir’s attorneys.
Yoon was to appear in Honolulu for a meeting with his creditors Tuesday in which he would answer their questions under oath.
Neil Verbrugge, a trial attorney representing the U.S. trustees in the bankruptcy case, wrote in a court motion in April that Yoon was required to appear at the hearing or he could be denied a discharge from the case.
The Chapter 7 bankruptcy case Yoon filed last year was not his first. He had over $733,000 in debt when he filed for bankruptcy in California in 2017, according to court records. His annual income was a little over $49,000, the court records show.
The string of bankruptcies didn’t deter Yoon from working on his Kahala home, however. Since 1999, he’s steadily been making additions to the property including a swimming pool, a detached garage, a fence, a pond and other home alterations, according to building permit records.
And even though the residence has been sold, his latest permit for second-story alterations was just approved in May.
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