‘Wonder Blunder ‘ Suspect Pleads Not Guilty

A North Carolina man accused of scamming the University of Hawaii out of $200,000 for a Stevie Wonder concert pleaded not guilty Nov. 30 to federal charges.

Prosecutors allege Hubbard defrauded the school out of money that was intended as a deposit for a concert that never happened. The club and concert promoter from Waxhaw, N.C., faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Authorities say Hubbard convinced a local promoter that he had connections with a former Motown Records executive who could secure Wonder for a fundraiser on Aug. 18. The school paid $200,000 as a deposit and began selling advance tickets for the concert, 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, 44, is a British national who lives in Miami.

Hubbard’s trial is scheduled to start on Jan. 21, said John Schum, who was initially appointed by the court to represent Hubbard. He said Pete Anderson has taken over as Hubbard’s attorney, and a phone message for Anderson left with his office in Charlotte, N.C., wasn’t immediately returned.

Earlier this month, a special state Senate committee investigating the university’s response to the bungled concert and its aftermath said the incident tarnished the university’s reputation both nationally and within the state.

The university spent at least $1.1 million responding to the debacle, the committee said. A large chunk went to attorneys, accountants and public relations consultants.

About half of the money is going toward a new three-year contract — worth about $600,000 altogether — for former athletic director Jim Donovan, whom President M.R.C. Greenwood had removed as athletic director after the fiasco. The university gave Donovan a new contract when he threatened to sue if he wasn’t reinstated as athletic director.