by Andrew Walden
Contrary to HART’s February 14, 2019 statement, the US Department of Justice had issued not one but two subpoenas to HART demanding rail-related records.
(UPDATE Feb 25, 2019: HART now admits receiving a 3rd subpoena. Would not comment when asked Friday.)
HART made only one of the subpoenas public on February 14, 2019. It was dated February 8, 2019. They made no mention of any additional subpoenas.
Today HART is releasing a second subpoena—dated February 3, 2019.
The February 8 subpoena was characterized by HART as “a federal subpoena to provide documents and files that largely duplicate those recently provided and made available to the state auditor.” HART is ordered to provide these documents to the Honolulu Federal Grand Jury on or before March 3, 2019 at 9am.
The February 3 subpoena is more specific—and the demanded delivery was this morning, February 21, 2019, at 9am. HART spokesperson Russell Yamanoha says HART did not receive this subpoena until February 15th--six days before the deadline.
According to a HART statement released today, the February 3 subpoena demands, “specific relocation program files, HART’s Real Estate Acquisition Management Plan, and records identifying companies and personnel involved with relocation services.”
HART reminds the media that “It was just about a year ago that HART self-reported to the FTA that HART’s own internal review of the relocation files found that the authority may have overspent on relocating residences and businesses in the path of the rail line.”
Flashback Feb 23, 2018: Criminal Intent: Honolulu rail pays $3.8M penalty for Corrupt Relocation Over Payments to Politically Connected Developers
PDF: February 3, 2019 Subpoena
The subpoena lists five items:
1. The Overland, Pacific, and Cutler (OPC) Internal Relocation File Audit Report prepared on December 5, 2017, by Michele Folk, for Honolulu Rail Transit Project.
2. The Overland, Pacific, and Cutler (OPC) Internal Relocation File Audit Report prepared on October 26, 2018, by Michele Folk, for Honolulu Rail Transit Project.
3. HART's Real Estate Acquisition Management Plan.
4. Relocation files for the 18 relocation files referenced in OPCs December 5, 2017 report. Records for the 18 relocation files include, but not limited to:
a. Title Work
b. Appraisals, appraisal reviews, and FTA concurrence
c. Offers to Owners
e. Relocation Notes
f. Negotiation Log
g. Records of Relocation Assistance
5. Records Identifying companies and personnel who worked as Right of Way consultants or staff for HART to administer relocation services.
* * * * *
News Release from HART, Feb 21, 2019
The United States District Court for the District of Hawaii has issued the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation a subpoena for specific relocation program files, HART’s Real Estate Acquisition Management Plan, and records identifying companies and personnel involved with relocation services.
HART is currently working closely with members of the FTA staff on a thorough review of these same files.
It was just about a year ago that HART self-reported to the FTA that HART’s own internal review of the relocation files found that the authority may have overspent on relocating residences and businesses in the path of the rail line.
HART has been keeping FTA informed on this matter over the past several months.
HART will cooperate and comply fully with this latest subpoena.
Related: HART Property Acquisitions: The Dennis Dwyer Connection
'Hold on to your pocketbooks!' says city council chair after second subpoena to HART
KHON: … Council member Ann Kobayashi says taxpayers should be worried. She's afraid the federal money slated for rail could get delayed, or might never come this way.
"It's really frightening," said Kobayashi, the interim city council chairwoman.
She says one subpoena was bad enough, but getting the second one makes her feel even more uneasy that the Federal Transit Administration might never come through with the $744 million pledged to finish the project.
And even if it does, it might take longer, which means HART will need to borrow more money to keep construction going.
"Everyone better hang on to their pocketbooks because I just can't see if the federal money doesn't come in and there's more costs. That means more borrowing of money, more interest payments," said Kobayashi….
HART is currently trying to attract private companies as partners to help complete the project.
"What company would now partner with us when we have two federal subpoenas? I mean I don't think any company is gonna want to partner with us. Things look really dismal at this point. The federal government doesn't just issue a subpoena unless there's good cause," said Kobayashi….
read … 'Hold on to your pocketbooks!' says city council chair after second subpoena to HART
HNN: “I didn't see anything that I've seen that rises to the level of illegal activity." said HART CEO Andrew Robbins
KHON: HART suspected overpayments in 15 out 18 relocation files examined internally. Those 18 were just a sliver of the 103 relocations HART had paid for so far as of that point, but they were some of the most “complex” and “high-dollar” moves. HART found miscalculations, payments for covering ineligible costs, even cases of new or better equipment buying, rather than just taking something from point A to B, Robbins said, all things HART thought ran afoul of federal Uniform Relocation Act guidelines.
“Right before -- essentially a day or two before the second subpoena -- we did receive correspondence that they (the Federal Transit Administration) were going to be sending an expert to review the relocation files,” Robbins said.
CB: Feds Are Investigating HART’s Relocation Payments
Feb 23, 2018: Criminal Intent: Honolulu rail pays $3.8M penalty for Corrupt Relocation Over Payments to Politically Connected Developers
Other Subpoena (dated Feb 8): FULL TEXT: Federal Subpoena of HART Records