Summarized by Kent Larsen
Former BYU Football Player disappears (Scrutinized youth camp chief 'took off')
Honolulu HI Star-Bulletin 22Nov99 D2
By Susan Kreifels: Star-Bulletin
LAIE, HAWAII -- A former BYU football player who was operating
controversial youth reform camps in Samoa and Laie, Hawaii has
disappeared, according to the former director of the Hawaii camp. Mekeli
Ieremia, who owned both the New Hope Academy in Samoa and the Aloah
Youth Academy in Hawaii, can't be found says Jeff Pluemacher. Ieremia is
sought by Texas authorities for as much as $4.7 million in workers'
The New Hope Academy shut down earlier this year, and U.S. authorities
discovered five hungry teens stranded on Samoa last February. The
company claims that disgruntled employees and parents orchestrated its
failure. New Hope had been marketed to parents of troubled teens in
Utah, using Ieremia's reputation from BYU.
A few weeks later Ieremia opened Aloha Youth Academy, charging $2,490
monthly per child. Soon afterwards, two mainland parents pulled their
children from the program when a counselor called them, claiming that
Aloha wasn't providing the promised services.
One of the parents then filed a complaint with the Hawaii Office of
Commerce and Consumer Affairs. In September, the Academy was shut down
until it received proper licenses from the state Department of Health.
Ieremia was suspended earlier this year from a job as director of risk
management for the Soccorro Independent School District in El Paso,
Texas. The missing workers' compensation funds were from the school
district. In an October interview, Ieremia, who has family in Hawaii,
says he never came under investigation for the missing funds and that he
voluntarily resigned on his attorney's advice.
While authorities and former employees have been unable to locate
Ieremia, it is known that he has a home in Samoa and relatives in