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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 28, 2010

2 convicted of contract fraud at wildlife refuge

Advertiser Staff

A jury yesterday convicted two Kaua'i men accused of a fraudulent contract scheme involving government contracts at the Hanalei Wildlife Refuge.

Kevin Paik, 47, and James Alan Duarte, 48, will be sentenced in August and face maximum penalties of 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

According to testimony during a 13-day jury trial, Paik agreed with Duarte to submit bids for subcontracts that concealed Paik's personal involvement in the bids.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said Paik, a federal employee, prepared fraudulent bid documents that were purportedly from a contractor, using a contractor's license number obtained by Duarte.

"Duarte and Paik then performed the work, while making it appear as if it had been done by the Kaua'i contractor," U.S. Attorney Florence Nakakuni said in a news release.

The work involved restoration and maintenance of the Hanalei Wildlife Refuge, where Paik was employed as an engineering equipment operator by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Paik was found guilty of four counts of mail and wire fraud, and one count involving a criminal conflict of interest. Duarte was convicted of four mail and wire fraud counts. Each man was found not guilty of three additional fraud charges.