HONOLULU (KHON2) — Big Island police are looking into a theft involving a former employee at Kamehameha Schools.
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Authorities said school administrators reported that the worker embezzled over $360,000 over three years.
No arrests have been made, and police aren’t revealing the suspect’s identity at this time.
Recent embezzlement cases with light sentences have raised eyebrows in the community, with some arguing they send the wrong message, and aren’t much of a deterrent.
A former Kauai Police Department employee stole more than $74,000 from the department. She was sentenced to 60 days jail time and four years probation.
Earlier this month, former Mililani High school Athletics Director Glenn Nitta pleaded no contest to stealing more than $400,000 from the Booster Club. The judge sentenced him to four years probation.
Retired Circuit Court Judge Randal Lee said the punishment was not enough.
“When the courts don’t punish these people, you’re sending the wrong message that nothing else is going to happen to you if you steal money,” he said.
In both cases, the defendants paid back the money. In the Nitta case, Honolulu Prosecutor Steve Alm said, “Paying restitution and avoiding prison is like allowing a bank robber to go free if he gives back the money he stole.”
“The fact that you paid back the money is a significant factor. But that being said if you didn’t get caught, would you have paid it back? That’s the real question, if you wasn’t caught, would you have paid it back?” said Lee.
Defense attorney Megan Kau points out that a judge has to consider a list of factors when deciding on a sentence.
“So they will go through the nature and history of the defendant, the character of the defendant, the circumstances of the crime,” she said.
But Lee said the seriousness of the crime should be considered above all else.
Especially when the victim of the crime is your employer and others who put their faith in you.
“You breach that trust, and you violate that trust by stealing money from the very people who trust you. That undermines the whole system of punishment,” he said.
We reached out to the state judiciary but a spokesperson declined to comment.