Resolution of Charge 2019-1 (COMPL-C-17-00001-01)
Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, Kauai Office, Building Maintenance Worker’s Alleged Violations of Fair Treatment Law
From Hawaii State Ethics Commission, April 9, 2019 (excerpts)
The Hawaii State Ethics Commission (“Commission”) has resolved a Charge and Further Statement of Alleged Violation issued against Bruce Kelekoma, Building Maintenance Worker I, Department of Land and Natural Resources (“DLNR”), Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, Kauai Office (“DOBOR-Kauai”), for alleged violations of the State Ethics Code, Hawaii Revised Statutes (“HRS”) chapter 84. …
Respondent Kelekoma … has worked for DOBOR-Kauai since approximately 2013 as a Building Maintenance Worker (“BMW”) I. …
Use of State resources for personal and/or private business purposes
c) In or around July 2014, the then-District Manager of the DOBOR-Kauai office, Joseph Borden (“former District Manager Borden” or “Borden”), used his State pCard, and State funds, to purchase $2,753.89 in automobile parts and repair services from Kauai Auto Repair LLC for Respondent Kelekoma’s personal benefit. Among other things, former District Manager Borden purchased four new tires and alignment for Respondent Kelekoma’s personal truck, claiming in procurement documents that the purchase was for a DOBOR-Kauai 2012 Ford F-350 truck with license plate E-621. Borden had previously claimed to purchase new tires for that same DOBOR-Kauai truck in January 2012 (when the vehicle was first purchased) and again in January 2014, and Respondent Kelekoma subsequently claimed to purchase new tires for the same DOBOR-Kauai truck (E-621) in August 2016. In a procurement document, Borden claimed that the July 2014 purchase of new tires – six months after the January 2014 purchase of new tires, was necessary because “E621 tires are worn and treads are showing.” In fact, the July 2014 purchase was for Respondent Kelekoma’s personal benefit. Respondent Kelekoma accepted the automobile parts and services for Respondent’s personal truck knowing that State funds were used to pay for these parts and services.
d) In or around December 2014, Borden requested approval to dispose of a DOBOR-Kauai 2003 GMC truck that had been involved in an accident; the front of the vehicle was damaged, but the cabin and rear of the vehicle were undamaged and would have been valuable for parts. The disposal memorandum indicated that the vehicle would be disposed of at the Puhi Metal Facility. In or around 2015 or 2016, after Borden received approval to dispose of the vehicle, Respondent Kelekoma took possession of the tires from that GMC truck for his personal use, said to be apparently dropped off by another DOBOR-Kauai employee.
e) Respondent Kelekoma’s family leases pasture land in Anahola from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. The Kelekomas’ pasture is used to raise cattle. On or about October 14, 2016, Respondent Kelekoma and several other DOBOR-Kauai employees were tasked with disposing of a 55-gallon barrel of diesel fuel that had washed up on a Kauai beach. The fuel should have been disposed of as hazardous waste at the Nawiliwili Small Boat Harbor. Instead, Respondent Kelekoma transported the diesel fuel to the Kelekomas’ pasture land in Anahola on state work time, using a state truck, so that it could be used for personal purposes. Respondent Kelekoma poured the diesel fuel on fence posts as a preservative at the Anahola pasture land, rather than disposing of the fuel as hazardous waste.
f) On or about March 21, 2017, Respondent Kelekoma directed DOBOR Kauai employees under his supervision to cut kiawe wood, bring it back to the DOBOR-Kauai facility, and/or load wood into his personal truck for his and others’ personal use. The work order Respondent Kelekoma prepared for the day directed the DOBOR-Kauai employees to “bring back good timber,” and Respondent Kelekoma took kiawe wood for his personal use.
g) On or around April 6, 2017, Respondent Kelekoma used his state pCard, and state funds, to purchase light bulbs for his personal Nissan truck. Specifically, he purchased two stoplight bulbs for $1.29 each and a parking light bulb for $0.99 (both plus state General Excise Tax) from Pacific Service and Development (also known as Napa Auto Parts) in Lihue. At the time, DOBOR-Kauai did not own a 1996 Nissan, but Respondent Kelekoma owned a 1996 Nissan pickup truck.
h) In or around May of 2017, Respondent Kelekoma used state time and equipment to replace the carburetor in Borden’s personal string trimmer.
i) On multiple occasions between 2013 and 2018, Respondent Kelekoma took DOBOR-Kauai equipment away from state premises for his personal use.
Conflicts of Interests
j) As part of his state duties, Respondent Kelekoma periodically made purchases from Kauai Marine and Mower, a marine equipment store. For example, in or around August 2016, Respondent Kelekoma purchased $458.26 of supplies from Kauai Marine and Mower. Similarly, as part of his state duties, Respondent Kelekoma periodically provided recommendations to former District Manager Borden and/or others as to whether to purchase items for DOBOR-Kauai from Kauai Marine and Mower. For example, in or around December 2015, Respondent Kelekoma participated in discussions with his supervisors regarding the purchase of a trailer from Kauai Marine and Mower. As such, Respondent took official state action affecting and/or involving Kauai Marine and Mower by making decisions and recommendations about purchasing equipment and other items from Kauai Marine and Mower.
k) On two occasions thereafter – on November 17, 2016, and again on November 29, 2016 – Respondent Kelekoma performed paid services for Kauai Marine and Mower. On each occasion, Kauai Marine and Mower paid Respondent Kelekoma two hundred dollars for his services.
Certifications of disposal of state equipment; testimony to Ethics Commission investigator
l) On March 3, 2017, Respondent Kelekoma signed a Certificate of Disposal for a 25-gallon FEMCO sprayer belonging to DOBOR-Kauai … In fact, Respondent Kelekoma did not participate in or witness the disposal, trade-in, or sale of the sprayer.
m) On May 23, 2017, Respondent Kelekoma signed a Certificate of Disposal for a Tiger Cat 48” zero turning radius riding lawnmower … (purchased in 2014 for approximately $8,060.37 by DOBOR-Kauai)…. In fact, Respondent Kelekoma did not participate in or witness the disposal, trade-in, or sale of the lawnmower. …
Given the likely violations of the State Ethics Code, the Commission believes it is reasonable, fair, and in the public interest to resolve the Charge and Further Statement of Alleged Violation by (1) issuing this Resolution of Charge, (2) requiring Respondent Kelekoma to pay an administrative penalty of $4,500 to the State of Hawaii, and (3) referring this matter to DLNR for further action as appropriate. …
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