DLNR official forced to resign

LIHUE — The Kauai district manager for the Department of Natural Resources’ boating division resigned last week after an investigation revealed he falsified documents in order to award dozens of government contracts to businesses run by his friend, according to documents released Tuesday by the Hawaii State Ethics Commission.

Kauai Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation District Manager Joseph Borden also admitted to accepting gifts from people who he was in charge of issuing permits and contracts to, using government funds to pay for first-class airline tickets, ordering his subordinates to falsify documents and making use of various government resources to benefit himself personally, according to a settlement reached with the commission on Dec. 14.

Two other Kauai DOBOR employees were also issued fines by the Ethics Commission on the same day. Building Maintenance Worker Manuel Andrade was ordered to pay $2,000 for using DLNR equipment for personal gain and emptying a 55-gallon drum of diesel fuel on private land when it should have been disposed of as hazardous waste. Harbor Agent Kathy Rosare was fined $1,500 for spending time at work and using her state email to conduct personal business.

Borden reached a settlement with the Ethics Commission on Dec. 14, which required him to resign his position at the end of the week and pay a $15,000 fine.

The commission found that Borden authorized nearly $1 million in state funds over a four-year period to be paid to two companies — South Shore Lawn Services and Hoff Enterprises, Inc. — owned and operated by Aaron Hoff, a local businessman who Borden described as a friend.

Roughly half of those contracts were offered exclusively to Hoff, although state laws require government contracts to undergo a public competitive bidding process.

The commission found that, “for more than 50 of these jobs, there is no evidence in the procurement files that he sought any other bids for the work.” In 42 of those jobs, Borden falsified paperwork to make it look like other vendors had also submitted bids for the job, “when in fact no such bid ever existed.”

Hoff may have also been paid for work at vastly inflated rates. The investigation found he was paid about $36,000 and then $45,000 in consecutive years by the DLNR to clean two portable toilets three times per week. After the amount was questioned by a superior, Borden was able to find a different company to do the work for less than a third of the price.

In some instances, it is unclear whether Hoff did anything at all after securing the contract. The commission’s report said that “procurement documents raise questions as to whether work was actually performed on every job.”

Hoff declined to comment on the particulars but said Wednesday that he didn’t know Borden was doing anything wrong.

“They’d call me, I’d give them a bid and go to work,” he said. “I have no idea how the process works.”

In addition to ethics code and fair treatment law violations, Borden instructed his subordinates on multiple occasions to falsely certify DLNR equipment disposal records to make it appear as though DLNR equipment had been disposed of.

The commission alleges the equipment was then given to DOBOR employees or their family members. Borden does not dispute that the supposedly-discarded equipment may have been kept by staff members, but maintains he did not authorize them to do so.

Borden borrowed expensive landscaping equipment from Hoff and another friend who was also recently awarded a DOBOR contract. The Ethics Commission found those loans to be a violation of laws prohibiting state employees from accepting certain gifts.

The commission also noted that some of the equipment appeared to be identical to items Borden falsified documents in order to “dispose of.” Borden disputes this claim also, and the matter was not investigated further.

In Borden’s settlement, the commission stated, “If this matter were to proceed to a contested case hearing, Respondent would likely face more than 165 counts of violating the Ethics Code, each of which could be punishable by an administrative fine of $1,000,” an outcome Borden avoided by resigning and agreeing to pay the $15,000 fine.

“The Commission is troubled that internal control mechanisms did not uncover any potential problems regarding the purchase of nearly $1,000,000 in goods and services – on more than 100 separate occasions – from a private contractor,” Borden’s resolution with the commission says. “Respondent Borden’s immediate superiors within DLNR should have reviewed these expenditures with greater care and should have required additional verification as to the need for (and prices of) these services.”

Board of Land and Natural Resources Chairwoman Suzanne Case said in a statement Tuesday the DLNR “will be reviewing the Ethics Commission findings carefully and examining our internal procedures, controls and training programs for improvements to ensure strict compliance by all staff with ethics and procurement laws.”

•••

Caleb Loehrer, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or cloehrer@thegardenisland.com.

18 Comments
  1. harry oyama December 20, 2018 6:08 am Reply

    Let me do the math, Borden was fined $15,000 for diverting $1 million of taxpayers money to his friend who in turn inflated prices and got away scot free. Then two of Borden’s State workers also got fined and still works there to one day retire with full benefits.

    Fining these crooks is not enough, they should be spending time in prison. I’ve seen such misdeeds go on while I worked as a student assistance in the UH system. My supervisor using State vehicle to deliver his welding supplies to customers while on the clock. Its a problem much more prevalent in scope.


  2. tunnels December 20, 2018 7:20 am Reply

    Our tax dollars at work. Pfffffffffff bunch of crooks!


  3. kauaiboy December 20, 2018 7:38 am Reply

    Borden was forced to resign? And fined $15,000? (which is not made exactly clear in this article) . That’s all??

    After costing taxpayers up to $1million in inflated maintenance costs? And after instructing his subordinates on multiple occasions to falsely certify DLNR equipment disposal records, and then taking control of said equipment?

    An appropriate agreement would be a $100,000 fine and 5 years in prison.

    A public servant should serve the public and not himself.


  4. onthewavepro December 20, 2018 7:52 am Reply

    Hello County of Kauai…we have only been complaining about the DLNR practices under Borden, including ABUSE OF POWER, for over 5 years. Glad our new mayor is cleaning up decades of corruption. It’s about time! 15000.00 fine is no fine for the fraud and crimes committed here. It should be over 1 million and jail time, hello. You let him off with a wrist slap here and are setting a bad preceent for those like him who abuse the system for personal gain.


  5. onthewavepro December 20, 2018 8:00 am Reply

    DO NOT GIVE THIS GUY HIS PENSION. IT SHOULD BE FORFEITED AND THOSE MONIES SPENT ON OUR ENVIRONMENT.


  6. Graduate December 20, 2018 8:09 am Reply

    You all starting to see the public corruption on Kauai?

    I tried to tell you all that most will graduate KPD as dirty cops then move to DLNR to expand the public corruption and pas their retirements and grease their palms.

    I guarantee that they know where all the grow fields and stash houses are and protect them as a side gig.

    KPD has a good conduct pay of an extra $2-$3/hr for not selling out but they still do and so does DLNR.

    The Kauai mafia and Staye of Hawaii Mafia is strong in the islands.

    Until we the people rid ourselves of these fleas, we will never have an honorable and respectful judicial system.

    The schematic is clear and the present danger to Hawaii are those who have sworn oaths to protect and serve.


  7. really? December 20, 2018 8:21 am Reply

    two toilets three times a week is no more than 6 hours a week equating to 312 hours a year, year one pay would have been 115 per hour in year one, and144 per hour in year 2. Hoff needs to return all funds in excess of $9000, that would be 28 per hour, plenty to cover a 20 dollar n hour wage and payroll overhead.
    Bordens actions spent our monies frivolously, yet he only got a 15000 fine and no restitution. dlnr are never to be trusted, ……criminals the lot of them. Hoff right there with em.


  8. debra kekaualua December 20, 2018 9:10 am Reply

    Joseph Bordon and Danner are reallyreallyreally good at these games against all the fakes that continue. For over a decade, i have paid attention to Every move these and many others are continuing to get away with. FBI needs to open up the corruption that is ongoingly IN OUR FACES using tax dollars OR million dollar donations, so Halau and bernard hui “wishes” of Baptiste to fly to portugal to obtain a “sister city” for kauai. SO much corruption yet they ALL continue to rambo and get away with MURDER, money laundering, corrupted judiciary and so on! YOU play, YOU pay!


  9. Local Taxpayer December 20, 2018 9:51 am Reply

    $15,000 fine?! Are you kidding me? Put these criminals in jail!


  10. MisterM December 20, 2018 10:47 am Reply

    This is an outrageously lenient finding. This scumbag should have been prosecuted to the fullest extent possible and fired from his job. Instead he gets to retire and keep his pension???? Where is the County AG?????


  11. Joe Public December 20, 2018 11:15 am Reply

    They should also audit the County email system, have seen some of the employees using their county email addresses to conduct their personal outside businesses while working on County time.


  12. commonsense December 20, 2018 11:42 am Reply

    Maybe this is how the new boat operating and landing at Kalapaki Beach got a permit to operate without a public hearing or environmental impact statement. This should definitely be looked into since it is illegal to land or embark/disembark passengers on the beach.
    Interesting how things work here!


  13. truth be known December 20, 2018 11:46 am Reply

    Another reason why Kauai County needs to have an independent audit by a reputable CPA firm. It is unconscionable that this has not been done in the past. Our newly elected mayor should make this a priority.


  14. Oingo boingo December 20, 2018 11:56 am Reply

    Looks like just a slap on the wrist to me….you would think jail time would be in order….just saying


  15. Steve martin December 20, 2018 12:23 pm Reply

    What they did was a crime jail time should have been the consequences for the actions.


  16. alien December 20, 2018 1:46 pm Reply

    Look out good old boys club. This is how most department’s are run in the county.


  17. Sohappy December 20, 2018 2:37 pm Reply

    These people should be going to jail, not just being fired and fined! They stole from us, the taxpayers, and need to be held more accountable!


  18. 4DaPeople December 20, 2018 4:35 pm Reply

    If you all are really concerned then file a petition or letters of complaint to the FBI/DOJ and other federal agencies. The stove is hot right now and the feds sent the best to take down public corruption.

    These guys can still go to Jail under federal public corruption Laws. The county and state are weak because they are protecting their assets. More people are involved and they know who they are I know ono who they are and that’s why they’ve tried to set me up and frame me for over 10 years.

    I exposed the corruption in DLNR years ago when they started stalking me because one of the officers is related to the Kauai Serial Killer and his daddy was a Mafia shot caller on Kauai for the state of Hawaii Mafia.

    Firefighters were able to steal public funds (gas) and use the rescue boat for fishing and nothing was done to none of them.

    Lots of Fed contracts on bridges, roads (highway), state monies on bus shelters are quid pro quo no bid greedy schemes by public officials.

    Ask a former council member about their family business and their family friends businesses and how many millions they made from the big box ban? And ask yourselves how much have the people of Kauai suffered from lack of competing price by other companies willing to compete and reduce grocery prices in Kauai and then ask about the monopolies like Hawaiian Airlines and how they screwed the people of Hawaii for pure greed.

    Former Mayor no bid contracts was/is out of control. He subcontracted people to clean Umi streets eyesore (bushes and trees right under power lines) which is costing taxpayers money that they don’t need to tax. It was clever created scheme and they gonna do the same on Rice st. This is how the Rich get richer (plantation mentality).

    Kauai courts is just as corrupt as any third world, let me correct that Kauai is just as corrupt as any third world country because you all keep voting plantation family memebwrs who only hire non qualified friends and relatives.

    When the county of Kauai pays 80% of public funds to cover payroll expense then you have a serious problem but to magnify that malfeasance, you see how parks and recs is a sham.

    Too much Shibai and not enough good hard working people in the county if Kauai and State of Hawaii.

    The people of Kauai has to take back Kauai from the evil plantation empire mentality.

    All the corrupt people on Kauai and the state of Hawaii know who I am. But they won’t mentioned what I have done and how many good things have come out of my labor.


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