Investigators with the state Attorney General’s office will have less than two months to return a portion of the computer files belonging to former Kaua‘i police chief K.C. Lum.
That’s a decision Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe made in her courtroom yesterday morning.
Officials from the Attorney General’s office seized Lum’s computer files Sept. 14, 2006, after allegations that Lum altered government records.
Specifically, state prosecutors removed a hard drive from Lum’s ‘Ele‘ele home as potential evidence linking him to a fax they allege falsified the circumstances surrounding his June retirement.
The reason for the investigation was to determine whether Lum altered a letter the county sent to him — a letter he later forwarded to the Police Commission and others.
The letter was dated May 30 from Honolulu law firm Watanabe, Ing and Kawashima, and was faxed to Clayton Ikei, Lum’s attorney, informing him of the county’s decision to cancel Lum’s contract as chief of police.
The letter gave Lum a week to decide whether he wanted to take a demotion to lieutenant.
Since the September 2006 raid on Lum’s house, Lum’s attorney Al Castillo has filed two motions in response to the seizure of the property.
The first, which was met without refute by state officials yesterday, is that the Attorney General’s office release the affidavit and supporting documents that backed the warrant obtained to search Lum’s home.
The second motion, the return of Lum’s hard drive, was referred to by state Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Albert Cook as “premature at this point.”
“We haven’t yet made a decision whether to charge him,” Cook said. “So we can’t release it until the case is charged.”
Cook couldn’t comment on whether the state will continue forward with the case.
It was that very reasoning that Lum’s attorney filed the motions in the first place, as officials could continue to possess his property until the two-year statute of limitations to move ahead with the misdemeanor charge runs its course.
In light of that, Watanabe ordered that Lum specify any files for which he is in need, and that they be made available to him by July 1.
“(Lum) will, through his attorney, let us know what files he needs from the computer,” Cook said. “If by July 1 he hasn’t gotten what he’s needed, he would get the copies.”
In addition to searching his home in September, investigators also searched Lum’s 2003 Ford Explorer and 1989 Nissan truck, poring through documents and data found on laptops, storage devices, cassettes, printers, modems, software, photography equipment and backup drives.
The raid on Lum’s home occurred while he was running for an open seat on the Kaua‘i County Council after retiring as police chief in June 2006.