Shakedown in wake of killer's escape turns up contraband at state hospital

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - During a massive search of rooms at Hawaii State Hospital prompted by the escape of a psychopathic killer, a patient was caught with a fake drivers license, sources tell Hawaii News Now.

The revelation is the latest in a series of security concerns at the psychiatric facility, and comes as the state Attorney General's Office has six investigators interviewing employees.

Randall Saito slipped away from the hospital on Nov. 12, got a taxi to the airport and took a charter plane to Maui. From there, he caught a flight to California, where he landed before State Hospital officials had even reported him missing.

Authorities arrested him in Stockton last Wednesday.

The fake ID found during a recent search apparently belonged to a man who was committed to the State Hospital after being acquitted of murder, sources say. That patient has been transferred to a high security unit.

Sources say the incident raises fears that someone is selling fake IDs to patients.

The state Department of Health says it cannot release preliminary information about the investigation.

But lawmakers say the finding isn't good.

"It certainly appears that there's a breakdown in the management at the state hospital and the security as well," said state Sen. Will Espero.

On Wednesday, the Health Department met with officials from the Department of Public Safety and are planning a tour of OCCC to evaluate internal and safety protocols.

"They have individuals that are coming onto the state hospital right now and they are looking specifically at security of the state hospital," said state Sen. Jill Tokuda, whose district includes Kaneohe.

Security issues are part of an union complaint against the State Hospital.

HGEA says since June, registered nurses have been mandated to work overtime or in unfamiliar units. The Health Department says it's working with the union to resolve the overtime issues.

In the meantime, the state is ordering additional fencing.

Tokuda says part of the solution is a $160 million project to rebuild the state hospital by 2021. She says while the need for a new hospital is great, the construction should not be rushed.

"If you try to ram this through and try to short cut corners as we have seen in other state projects in a smaller scale, you run the risk of doing things wrong and not only that increasing the length of time and increasing the cost of this project," she said.

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