Monday, Dec. 11, 2023 |
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Hawaii Island police on Friday confirmed they are investigating allegations of an internal theft at the Kamehameha Schools Hawaii campus in Keaau.
On Thursday morning, Area I Criminal Investigation Division personnel met with Kamehameha Schools administrators, who reported that a former employee of the school embezzled more than $360,000 over a period of approximately three years.
Detectives are reviewing the internal investigation documents provided by the school, identifying witnesses that may need to be interviewed, and drafting search warrants for various institutions.
No arrests have been made in this case, nor is there an estimate for when one might occur, police said.
Police are not identifying a suspect at this time, and deferred any further comment to Kamehameha Schools Hawaii administrators.
In an email obtained by the Tribune-Herald that was sent Thursday to the school’s community, Po‘o Kula M. Kahealani Nae‘ole Wong, the school’s headmaster, said a “comprehensive internal investigation” led by school attorneys prompted campus officials to go to the police.
She added the communication was sent “with heavy emotions — from disappointment, anger, and sadness. But overriding these is a deep resolve.”
“This individual’s conduct is shameful, inexcusable, and a betrayal,” Nae‘ole-Wong wrote in the email. “This was someone known to us, whom we educated and entrusted to serve alongside us. We are providing our findings to the Hawaii Police Department, cooperating fully with them, and will be supporting appropriate criminal consequences and legal action to completely recover the amounts this individual has taken from us.”
The suspect was not identified in the email.
Nae‘ole-Wong said the school is “collectively committed to and are proceeding to implement steps to better prevent, deter, and detect these incidents, including having independent experts evaluate our policies, practices, training and analytics.”
“I am also working closely with our CEO and executive team to scrutinize our systems, practices, and policies so that we can shore them up and ensure that this will never occur again,” she said.
“Please know that all of us at Kamehameha Schools are committed to upholding the highest standards of fiscal responsibility and ethical practices, to protect the trust of Ke Ali‘i Pauahi, and to fulfill our mission to educate Native Hawaiians. Our focus remains on this.”
In an email sent to the Tribune-Herald on Thursday afternoon after the newspaper sought additional comment, Kamehameha Schools spokeswoman Crystal Kua said, “We stand by Po‘o Kula’s message to her school community.”
Anyone with information relative to this investigation may call Detective Paul Mangus with the Area I Criminal Investigation Section, at (808) 961-2383, or via email at Paul.Mangus@hawaiicounty.gov.
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