Friel Forced Out—Retaliation for Investigating DOCARE Corruption, Theft of Guns
HNN: Back in December when the state Department of Land and Natural Resources appointed Tommy Friel as its top law enforcement officer, sources said that Friel immediately asked for an inventory of all firearms that the department possessed.
Hawaii News Now has learned that the investigation found that about a dozen handguns either purchased by the department or seized as evidence were missing. Sources said that the DLNR turned over the investigation to Attorney General's office, which is now looking into the matter.
"That's unacceptable. That is just clearly unacceptable that a firearm could now be in the arms of a criminal," said state Sen. Will Espero (D) Ewa Beach.
Carroll Cox, a longtime DLNR critic, believes the alleged thefts have been going on for years.
"It's a culture of abuse, a culture ... of stealing, simply misappropriating," he said.
The missing guns are among the dozen internal investigations initiated by Friel since he was appointed to the job. They include investigations into potential procurement violations, time card fraud and alleged theft and misuse of equipment, according to Cox.
He also looking into the matter of DLNR officer Ethan Ferguson, who allegedly sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl at a Hilo beach while in uniform back in January, sources said.
The DLNR today said Friel resigned and its Chair Suzanne Case praised his efforts. But in a June 16 letter, Case said she was not extending Friel's employment past his six-month probation period. (Which means Case's statement printed below is a bald-faced lie.)
"You have not made a willing effort to foster a positive working relationship with your leadership team, due in part to a lack trust and respect by you of your leadership team," Case said. (Translation: This is retaliation.)
"In addition, you have issued personnel-related directives without consulting the DLNR's personnel office." (Yeah. Like that order issued back in January to not hire any more rapists.)
PDF: Friel Termination Letter
read … DLNR investigation finds more than a dozen guns missing
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Friel: “The push back is coming from those that I’m investigating”
SA: …Thomas “Tommy” Friel, chief of enforcement for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, said he is resigning from his position after only six months on the job because he wasn’t getting the support from above to clean up “a culture of waste, fraud and corruption” in the department.
“I’m just trying to do my work as best as I can. … I’m not getting the support from above,” Friel said by phone Tuesday. He said he opened more than a dozen investigations. “The push back is coming from those that I’m investigating, which are actually management that has been in place before I came on the various islands. There’s a lot of politics being played here.” …
Environmental watchdog Carroll Cox said Tuesday that Friel was forced out of the job because he initiated investigations into misconduct by high-level supervisors, making him unpopular with leadership before his employment probation ended….
Cox said Friel was pressured to resign, thereby eliminating his opportunity to appeal.
Cox maintained that Friel was unpopular with some supervisors because he was investigating possible improper behavior involving branch chiefs.
One investigation involved possible misuse of an anti-drug helicopter on Maui to gather shrimp and snails in a remote area for a wedding reception, Cox said. Another involved about a dozen missing confiscated firearms, Cox said. Also, Friel investigated the alleged abuse of power and overtime involving branch chiefs, he said.
read … Waste, Fraud, and Corruption
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Espero: 90% of DLNR Police Against Friel
CB: State Sen. Will Espero, who has made public safety a priority issue at the Hawaii Legislature, said Wednesday that over the past few days only 16 DLNR officers said they supported Friel. His division numbers around 160 employees.
On Tuesday, Espero wrote Mike McCartney, chief of staff for Gov. David Ige, expressing concern about Friel’s position.
“I am told he has completed or is doing many internal investigations that have found wrongdoing in DLNR,” he wrote. “Some issues include missing firearms, misuse of federal funds, missing equipment and theft of equipment.”
“I’m not here to micro-manage in any way,” he said. “However there seems to be a major disconnect within DLNR employees. I want to make sure the right decision regarding Friel is made.”
read … Because he is on to their corruption
Flashback 2008: DLNR Police Do Nothing as Sovereignty Activists take over Iolani Palace
Flashback 2015: Crying DLNR Police Apologize to Telescope Protesters
Flashback 2016: Renegades, Risks and Rewards of the Napali Coast
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STATEMENT FROM CHAIR SUZANNE CASE ON DOCARE CHIEF’S RESIGNATION
News Release from DLNR, June 21, 2016
(HONOLULU) - DLNR Chair Suzanne Case applauded the efforts of DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) Chief Thomas Friel in his brief tenure leading the agency. Case accepted Friel’s resignation, effective June 27. Friel joined DOCARE late last fall, after a long career in federal conservation resource law enforcement.
Case said, “Chief Friel helped move our resource conservation enforcement efforts forward by focusing on resource violations and on DOCARE officers not only as enforcers of Hawaii’s laws and rules, but also as protectors of our precious natural and cultural resources.” “I’m also grateful,” Case added, “that under Chief Friel’s leadership the division supported stepped-up law enforcement presence and activities in the hugely popular Napali Coast State Wilderness Park, undertook internal reviews of operations, and led DoCARE’s investigations of natural resource violations. Those are just a few of the positive, forward-thinking moves that occurred during Chief Friel’s tenure.”
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