Ethics Commission and former executive director at odds over Kealoha investigation

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The city ethics commission wanted to set the record straight on how it handled the Kealoha investigation four years ago.

But the man who led the investigation, Chuck Totto, disagrees with the commission’s findings, leaving the record murkier than ever.

Totto was the executive director at the time and he stepped down in the middle of the investigation. He and the commission don’t even agree on why he left.

“The problem was I was unable to do my job once those cases were taken away from me,” said Totto.

He started investigating ethics violations against the Kealohas in 2015 for using police resources to provide security in their Kahala home.

The Kealohas then filed complaints against him and the investigator, former HPD Captain Letha DeCaires. So the ethics commission pulled both of them from the case.

“The rug was pulled out under Letha when the contract had ended and would not be renewed despite my repeated requests, and the rug was pulled out from under me when I was taken off all the cases,” said Totto.

“We don’t want anybody else to say he’s got an ax to grind, Letha DeCaires has an ax to grind. We don’t want that, let’s take it and give it to somebody else,” said Victoria Marks, Chairwoman of the City Ethics Commission.

The commission says it wanted to avoid any conflicts of interest and hired another investigator. In 2016 Totto resigned as executive director. He points out in addition to taking the Kealoha case away from him, the commission also never verified whether the complaints by the Kealohas against him were even valid.

“When you have the largest corruption case in the history of the state staring at you and your commission gives you no support and in fact delays and delays things despite your request to get support, that made it untenable,” said Totto.

“The former executive director of the commission voluntarily resigned from the commission and that had absolutely nothing to do with the Kealohas,” said Marks.

The commission also pointed out that commissioners, as required by law, do not know the details of the investigation. So commissioners only took Totto and DeCaires off the case to avoid a conflict of interest after the issue was raised.

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