COMMISSION RESOLVES INVESTIGATIONS OF TWO HYCF EMPLOYEES FOR IMPROPER USE OF STATE RESOURCES
From Hawaii State Ethics Commission, February 24, 2021
Resolution of Investigation 2021-1: Mark Patterson
c) Beginning in or around 2018, and continuing until late 2020, Respondent Patterson authorized a private religious organization to store several trailers, with the organization’s private equipment, on HYCF property. The private religious organization did not pay any rental fee for the use of state property, though the private religious organization offers some services to HYCF’s wards.
d) After speaking with Ethics Commission staff, Respondent Patterson directed the private religious organization to remove its trailers from state property.
e) In or around June 2019, Respondent Patterson authorized a subordinate employee to use an HYCF tractor to mow/clear a private pasture in preparation for a fundraising rodeo event for a private non-profit organization with connections to HYCF.
f) Around 2019, Respondent Patterson authorized a subordinate employee to use an HYCF trailer for non-HYCF purposes. Respondent Patterson was unsure whether the trailer was to be used to help another rancher or the Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council, a private non-profit organization. HYCF has conducted cattle ranching operations on HYCF property for many years; Respondent Patterson maintains that other ranchers will help HYCF with its cattle operations from time to time, and that HYCF will sometimes reciprocate by helping others when they need assistance.
Respondent Patterson violated the Fair Treatment law by authorizing the use of state resources to benefit private individuals or organizations. In general, these individuals or organizations had some connection to HYCF and could be described as “community partners” with HYCF. While the Commission understands the desire to help those who help HYCF, the Ethics Code prohibits the use of state resources to do “favors” for private individuals and organizations.5
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Resolution of Investigation 2021-2: Darrell Bueno
I. Facts Respondent Bueno admitted and declared, under penalty of perjury, that the following facts are true and correct:1
a) At all times relevant herein, Respondent Bueno was employed as Institutional Facility Superintendent (“IFS”), Hawai‘i Youth Correctional Facility (“HYCF”), Department of Human Services (“DHS”), and was required to comply with the State Ethics Code, HRS chapter 84. As IFS, Respondent Bueno is responsible for three primary areas: maintenance of campus grounds, structures, and utility infrastructure; HYCF’s kitchen (to feed wards and staff); and the farm unit. Supervisors for each of these three sections report to Respondent Bueno.
b) As part of his state duties, Respondent Bueno assists in managing HYCF’s cattle ranching operations. Among other things, Respondent Bueno takes HYCF cattle to Hawaii Meats, LLC (“Hawaii Meats”) for slaughter and processing; HYCF pays Hawaii Meats for its services to slaughter cattle and break down the carcass into selected cuts.
c) Respondent Bueno also co-owns and operates a private cattle ranching business with the business name dB Cattle, Inc. (“dB Cattle”). He ranches cattle on land in Kunia and in Maunawili. Respondent Bueno also takes cattle from his private business to Hawaii Meats for slaughter and processing.
d) On two occasions in or around early 2020, Respondent Bueno drove to Hawaii Meats on state time and using state equipment, including a truck and trailer, as part of his state duties to transport HYCF cattle. While at Hawaii Meats on these two occasions, Bueno was offered – and purchased – cows for his private cattle business. On the first occasion, Respondent Bueno paid the President of Hawaii Meats $300 for two cows, after which he used an HYCF truck and trailer, and state time, to take the cattle to his Maunawili property. On the second occasion, Respondent Bueno paid the President of Hawaii Meats $400 for two cows and a calf, after which he used an HYCF truck and trailer, and state time, to take the cattle to his Kunia property. On both occasions, a subordinate state employee accompanied Respondent Bueno to Hawaii Meats to transport the HYCF cattle, and accompanied Respondent Bueno to the Maunawili and Kunia properties to transport the cattle purchased for Respondent Bueno’s private business.
e) On dozens of occasions in 2019 and 2020, Respondent Bueno used his state e-mail to conduct business on behalf of dB Cattle. He frequently exchanged e-mails with Hawaii Meats personnel regarding both HYCF business and his own private business, including requests for processing and pricing for his dB Cattle animals. He sent some of these e-mails on state time.
f) On multiple occasions over the course of several years, Respondent Bueno used HYCF equipment for his personal use and/or to benefit dB Cattle. For example, on two occasions in late 2019, Respondent Bueno took an HYCF riding lawnmower to his Maunawili property using his personal truck and trailer. In April 2020, Respondent Bueno took an HYCF trailer for several days to tow a friend’s Bobcat Skid-Steer to Respondent Bueno’s property in Kunia. Several years ago, Respondent Bueno also took an HYCF hydraulic tamper to his Kunia property and kept it there for over a year; in 2019, Respondent Bueno used state time and an HYCF truck to travel to his Kunia property to retrieve the tamper. Respondent Bueno maintains that he had the approval of his supervisor to use this equipment for non-HYCF purposes.
g) In or around April 2020, Respondent Bueno attempted to take an HYCF tire and rim for his personal trailer; he also attempted to use state resources to have that tire and rim repaired for his personal use prior to taking it for his personal use. At the time, the old tire was not functional, so Respondent Bueno instructed a subordinate state employee to repair it with the intention of taking the repaired tire for his personal use. Respondent Bueno intended for the subordinate to repair the tire using HYCF equipment. Unbeknownst to Respondent Bueno, the subordinate took the tire and rim to Goodyear Auto Service Center in Kailua and used $70.61 in state funds to have the tire repaired; because the subordinate used state funds to have the tire repaired, Respondent Bueno did not take the tire and rim for his personal use.
h) On multiple occasions, Respondent Bueno used state equipment to benefit other private individuals and/or organizations with ties to HYCF. In or around June 2019, Respondent Bueno used an HYCF tractor to mow a private pasture in preparation for a fundraising rodeo event for a private non-profit organization with connections to HYCF. Respondent Bueno asked his state supervisor for permission to use the HYCF tractor for this purpose, and the supervisor approved this use of the tractor. In or around early 2019, Respondent Bueno drove the same HYCF tractor – on state time – through the back roads of Waimanalo to clear land to support a church-based domestic violence organization with ties to HYCF. Again, Respondent Bueno’s supervisor approved this use of the HYCF tractor, and Respondent Bueno maintains that the supervisor directed Respondent Bueno to do so.
i) Respondent Bueno maintains that for many years, up to and including 2020, it was common practice for HYCF employees to use state equipment for their personal use, including but not limited to lawn mowers, chainsaws, weed trimmers, and tile cutters….
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