Former Kamehameha Schools employee being investigated for embezzling $360,000 on Big Island
6:14 p.m. update on Friday: The head of the school, M. Kāhealani Naeʻole-Wong, released the following statement:
“We met yesterday with the Hawaiʻi Police Department to present the findings of our internal investigation that indicate a former employee stole from our Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi campus, and we do not have any further information to provide at this time. We will be supporting the police and their handling of the criminal investigation and extend our gratitude for their kōkua with investigating this incident. We will also seek appropriate legal action for retrieval of the funds taken.”
Original post: Hawai‘i Island police are investigating allegations of an internal theft of $360,000 over a three-year period at the Kamehameha Schools Hawai‘i campus in Kea‘au.
On Thursday morning, Area I Criminal Investigation Division personnel met with Kamehameha Schools administrators, who reported that a former employee of the school allegedly embezzled the money.
The head of the school, M. Kāhealani Naeʻole-Wong, sent a letter to staff and parents on Nov. 16 that described the individual’s conduct as a shameful, inexcusable betrayal.
According to the letter, the school is working with the police department in this investigation. The school administrators will also be going through their systems, practices and policies to ensure this never happens again.
“The wrongful actions of one individual does not define our entire kauhale, which has always been built on principles of honesty and trust,” the letter states. “As we navigate through this challenging time, it will be these values that continue to guide us.”
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 a timeframe of when that may occur; police are not identifying a suspect at this time.
Anyone with information relative to this investigation may call Det. Paul Mangus with the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at 808-961-2383 or via email at [email protected].
Here is the contents of the letter:
Aloha e nā hoa kūpaʻa o Kamehameha Hawai‘i,
Today, I address you, our Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi community, with heavy emotions – from disappointment, anger, and sadness. But overriding these is a deep resolve.
This morning, we filed a police report against a former Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi employee. After a comprehensive internal investigation led by the Legal Group, we believe that this individual, while employed by us, stole more than $360,000 from our campus.
This individual’s conduct is shameful, inexcusable, and a betrayal. This was someone known to us, whom we educated and entrusted to serve alongside us. We are providing our findings to the Hawaiʻi 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.
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.
Going forward, we are 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.
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 Aliʻi Pauahi, and to fulfill our mission to educate Native Hawaiians. Our focus remains on this.
Finally, the wrongful actions of one individual does not define our entire kauhale, which has always been built on principles of honesty and trust. As we navigate through this challenging time, it will be these values that continue to guide us.
He ‘onipa‘a ka ‘oia‘i‘o.
Me ka ha‘aha‘a i ke aloha,
M. Kāhealani Naeʻole-Wong
Poʻo Kula, Kamehameha Hawaiʻi