One in every of Hawaii’s high regulation enforcement officers says state prosecutors have completed nothing with circumstances of white collar crime and authorities corruption forwarded to them by investigators over the last a number of years.
Daniel Hanagami, chief particular investigator within the state Legal professional Normal’s Workplace, mentioned in written testimony to state lawmakers Thursday that the Complicated Litigation Fraud and Compliance Unit has not pursued indictments for circumstances state investigators on the AG’s workplace accomplished.
The unit was created in 2019 to analyze circumstances of corruption, marketing campaign spending fraud and bribery.
Hanagami’s testimony is on Senate Bill 2930, which proposes creating a brand new division within the AG’s workplace to analyze fraud and white collar crime. The invoice additionally proposes the creation of a unit to analyze intercourse trafficking.
However Hanagami says a change is just not wanted.
“To this point, accomplished circumstances that had been despatched to the unit haven’t been forwarded for indictments and are held in abeyance for no motive,” Hanagami mentioned in his testimony, including that the unit has “not been managed correctly.”
Hanagami didn’t return a message left together with his workplace Thursday afternoon.
Hanagami didn’t describe the circumstances that he says the AG’s workplace has declined to pursue. And the company’s annual studies don’t checklist any prison investigations.
Hanagami testified in individual earlier than the committee Thursday however didn’t point out any of the considerations he raised in his written testimony. In each his written and verbal testimony he opposed the creation of the brand new unit as pointless.
In written testimony, Hanagami mentioned he believes the proposal to create a brand new investigative unit is partly retaliation for a civil rights case he’s filed in opposition to the AG’s workplace and an effort to take away him from his supervisory place. That case is ongoing, he mentioned.
A spokesman for the AG’s workplace didn’t return messages looking for touch upon Hanagami’s testimony.
The chief investigator’s allegations come as lawmakers are looking for to beef up an anti-corruption unit within the wake of felony fees filed in opposition to two former lawmakers who took half in a bribery scheme.
On Tuesday, J. Kalani English and Ty Cullen pleaded responsible to accepting bribes from a wastewater businessman who profited from laws that Cullen and English helped to affect.
Hawaii U.S. Legal professional Clare Connors detailed the costs in opposition to English and Cullen earlier this month. Connors was the state legal professional common till lately and instructed reporters that the federal prosecution shouldn’t be construed to imply that the state isn’t doing its job.
“Simply because the federal authorities is doing its job, doesn’t imply the state or the native authorities is just not doing its job,” Connors mentioned.
SB 2930 would allocate 9 new positions and $834,000 to the brand new fraud unit. Hanagami questioned the necessity for a brand new unit when the AG’s workplace already has a fraud unit — the staff he says has completed nothing with corruption circumstances.
Legal professional Normal Holly Shikida mentioned these new models are important to pursue white collar crime and corruption circumstances.
“We’d like the devoted people to have the ability to try this,” Shikida mentioned.
Connors established the Complicated Litigation, Fraud and Compliance Unit in 2019, though it has since dropped the phrase “fraud” from its title. In 2020, the division requested $510,000 to fund 10 positions for the unit.
“This unit was created to strengthen public confidence in authorities by investigating and prosecuting complicated issues involving authorities corruption, program theft and fraud, marketing campaign spending fraud, bribery and different issues that might erode the general public’s confidence in authorities,” the division mentioned in funds testimony that yr.
The unit was staffed with a senior deputy, two different deputy attorneys common to deal with litigation and prosecution, two forensic analysts, a compliance officer, a secretary and an assistant. These analysts had been retired federal investigators, and the unit was meant to behave as a liaison to different federal businesses investigating “excessive profile prison issues,” in keeping with an annual report.
Hanagami says in his written testimony that the analysts had been supposed to help state investigators with monetary evaluation.
“They did for some time, however that relationship didn’t final too lengthy attributable to character conflicts and these analysts refused to help the Particular Brokers within the Investigations Division,” his testimony mentioned.
Whereas the complicated litigation unit studies on to the AG, different models that target prison prosecution seem like struggling.
Deputy Legal professional Normal Michell Puu instructed lawmakers that the division’s Felony Justice Division has one legal professional targeted on white collar crime.
“And he or she is operating herself ragged attempting to maintain up with the quantity of fabric that she is trying by each day on a number of circumstances,” Puu mentioned in help of SB 2930. “Including to her out there crew could be important.”
Unit Has Targeted On Civil Instances
If the complicated litigation unit has labored on any circumstances of presidency fraud or corruption, that’s not obvious from the unit’s annual reports on its objectives and goals.
The complicated litigation unit was led by Deputy Legal professional Normal Lawrence Tong, who pursued what up to now has been an unfruitful try and identify financial backers of protesters who opposed the development of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea in 2019.
The unit lists defending the state from varied lawsuits amongst its accomplishments.
These embrace a category motion lawsuit in opposition to the state’s pension system, a authorized problem introduced by the Workplace of Hawaiian Affairs over Mauna Kea, and litigation involving the Hu Honua vitality plant on the Huge Island.
The complicated litigation unit additionally assisted in defending the state in opposition to claims introduced by hundreds of Hawaiian beneficiaries who’ve waited many years for lease awards for homesteads.
Many individuals have died whereas nonetheless on the waitlist, and their attorneys have accused the state of stalling the case.
In 2020, the unit additionally introduced a civil lawsuit in opposition to e-cigarette manufacturer JUUL labs. And final yr, it introduced a lawsuit in opposition to a Hawaii Medicaid supplier alleging that the corporate submitted false claims to the medicaid program.