About six months ago, news sources revealed that Maui County Public Works District Supervisor Raynard Oshiro used his county credit card (pCard) and purchase orders to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a commercial-grade, catering-type kitchen in the Wailuku Public Works Baseyard.
Sources also uncovered unapproved automotive expenses charged to the county by Maui County Parks & Recreation personnel.
Last year, a county employee brought attention to purchases of kitchen equipment, and Oshiro was suspended with pay while the county investigated his and others’ spending. The baseyard charges were explained on expense reports as “break-room” purchases, but the costs added up over time, exceeding what would normally be spent on a workplace kitchenette.
Oshiro, a decades-long county worker who ran the Wailuku District, has since retired. He said early on that he was willing to make restitution to the county and pay back the money over time.
However, since then, Maui County Prosecutor John D. Kim referred the case to the Maui Police Department for criminal investigation. No one is allowed in the facility and the media has been denied access to line-item spending details, which are now locked up as evidence.
The Criminal Investigation Division is conducting a theft investigation into the county’s Public Works kitchen, but no charges have been filed, an MPD spokesman told the media.
Councilmember Mike Victorino, who held pCard spending hearings after the issues were uncovered, said, “We’re waiting to see what kind of results we can get, then turn around and try to recover as much of our money as possible that were expended on these items.”
County attorneys are also looking into reports that Maui County Parks & Recreation automotive repair supervisor and other staff members bought large volumes of auto parts—$10,000 worth per month—far beyond what the department fleet would need. Sources also alleged that personal vehicle repairs and oil changes were taking place under War Memorial Stadium’s bleachers.
The county said one of the suspected parks employees has resigned, and that another is still under investigation.
Victorino said others have resigned with the option of paying restitution for some of the expenditures.
No additional details are available, as one of the cases has also been referred for criminal investigation.
Strict controls were put in place to check and double-check every swipe of a pCard.
“As with any system, there is always a way to abuse the system because we’re dealing with people,” Arakawa reiterated to Maui Now. “Anytime we have internal checks and the fact that we’ve been able to catch the abuse says that our system is working well.”
But since these incidents were brought to light, the Maui County Council has met with departments to update the pCard and purchase order system to detect and prevent theft attempts sooner.
The council is also awaiting the county auditor’s review, which is expected to be completed in early 2016.
News sources said that other county workers brought these incidents to light.
“Most of them are super, really hardworking people, and I want to thank them,” Victorino said. “And for those who may try to skate the system, we are out there looking for you.”
KHON story link .