Former city supervisor gets jail time for stealing nearly $20K in taxpayer money

Manuel Castro
Manuel Castro
Susan Castro
Susan Castro
Chris Van Marter
Chris Van Marter
Howard Luke
Howard Luke

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A former city supervisor, who collected thousands of dollars in overtime pay for hours he never worked, cried as he was sentenced to jail time Tuesday.

Manuel Castro was a city employee for 30 years. Prosecutors say he came up with the overtime scheme in a greedy effort to boost his retirement pay.

Susan Castro says she couldn't believe that her husband of more than 20 years orchestrated a scheme that cheated city taxpayers out of nearly $20,000.

"I was literally shocked and had the life sucked out of me," the convicted thief's wife said through tears.

Manuel Castro oversaw the city Department of Facilities Maintenance's street sweeping unit. Prosecutors say he "cooked the books" and submitted fraudulent time sheets for himself, as well as for several of his employees in exchange for kickbacks.

"The defendant was trying to increase the amount of his annual pay so that his retirement paycheck would be calculated on a higher amount of money," Chris Van Marter, deputy prosecutor, said.

Prosecutors asked for a 10-year prison sentence, saying others in government positions need to be deterred from committing similar crimes.

"Bribery, theft, kickbacks, multiple employees -- this is serious criminal activity that undermines the public's confidence in their city officials," Van Marter said.

Defense attorney Howard Luke described Castro as a good man who had a "tremendous lapse in judgment."

"I do believe that people do deserve second chances," the convicted thief said. "I'm asking for that chance, your honor."

But prosecutors argued that he already got -- and squandered away -- his second chance. He was sentenced in 1987 to probation and community service for robbery.

The 51-year-old apologized to the city for betraying its trust.

"I really let them down," Castro said. "They put a roof over my head. They put food in my mouth. They took care of me for 30 years and I took advantage of them."

Circuit Judge Randal Lee handed down a one-year jail term. Castro must return the $19,505.64 he stole, plus pay a $25,000 fine.

"As you sit in jail, ask yourself was it really worth it," the judge said.

Lee also ordered Castro to perform 250 hours of community service.

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