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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Hawai'i County settles two lawsuits against ex-police chief for $93,000

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

HILO, Hawai'i — Hawai'i County will pay $93,000 to settle two lawsuits accusing former Police Chief Wayne Carvalho of retaliating against his critics.

Wayne Carvalho retired from the force in 2000.

Advertiser library photo • 1996

The county has agreed to pay $60,000 to former police officer Tanny Cazimero, who alleged he was punished for publicly criticizing Carvalho.

Cazimero, a 16-year veteran of the Big Island police department, was fired in 2000. Carvalho retired later that year.

A settlement of $33,000 will go to John F. Brunton, a former officer in the King County Sheriff's Department in Seattle, who became interested in police activities on the Big Island after Carvalho, Deputy Police Chief Francis De Morales and Hawai'i County were found liable in 1999 for more than $4 million in damages in a promotion cheating scandal. That case is still pending on appeal.

Brunton attended police commission meetings to testify about Carvalho, wrote letters to newspapers criticizing the chief and set up a Web site dedicated to exposing problems within the department, according to Brunton's lawsuit.

Brunton alleged in his suit that he discovered he was under police surveillance in August 2000, and when he complained to the police commission, Carvalho publicly confirmed the surveillance.

Carvalho also reportedly made false public statements that Brunton was suspected of illegal activities, and those accusations damaged Brunton's reputation, the lawsuit said.

A lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai'i represented Brunton in the case, and the settlement was confirmed in a joint statement by the county and the ACLU.

The statement said "the parties agree there is no evidence of (Brunton) being involved in any illegal activity, and that it is the County of Hawai'i's policy to not have the County of Hawai'i Police Department investigate persons solely because of their political activities."

Deputy Corporation Counsel Joseph Kamelamela said both sides in the case are prohibited in the settlement from commenting further.

In the other case, Cazimero alleged he was punished and discriminated against for complaining about alleged illegal activities by Carvalho and other police officers, and sued Carvalho and former police Sgt. Hyland Char.

Cazimero was an outspoken Carvalho critic, and filed a police commission complaint against the chief for his role in the promotion scandal. Carvalho countered that Cazimero was a "disgruntled employee" who performed poorly on the job.

Kamelamela said the county denies any wrongdoing in the case, and agreed to the settlement to limit the costs of the court and union grievance fights.

Reach Kevin Dayton at kdayton@honoluluadvertiser.com or (808) 935-3916.