HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Public Safety Department has launched an internal investigation the head of training for more than 1,000 deputy sheriffs and corrections officers statewide.
The investigation was started after a Hawaii News Now report on April 11 showed discrepancies on Marte Martinez’s various applications for promotions within the department since 2013.
State senators expressed concern Wednesday — ahead of PSD Director Nolan Espinda’s confirmation. Martinez was promoted under his administration.
“Marte Martinez lied on the job application regarding her education,” said state Sen. Clarence Nishihara, Public Safety Committee chairman, who voted against Espinda’s second term.
In 2013 and 2014, when Martinez was first hired by the state as a firearms training technician, she did not cite any college degrees or certificates — not even a bachelor’s degree.
But about a year later, when applying to be the firearms training specialist, she claimed to have two certificates and a bachelor’s degree from Southern Oregon University. An email Hawaii News Now obtained from that school’s enrollment office says there is no record of a degree.
Less than a year later, in June 2016, Martinez added another degree from the Naval Post Graduate School and a new school, St. Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine. An email we obtained from that school, says they could not find a J. Marte Martinez in the database.
“The more I delve into these problems, the most concerned I become," said state Sen. Breene Harimoto, also on the Public Safety Committee and one of the eight senators who voted against Espinda’s confirmation.
Hawaii News Now asked PSD if anyone bothered to verify Martinez’ education claims. A spokesperson referred us to the Department of Human Resources and Development.
A spokesman for DHRD said they only verify the credentials of external candidates, once a person is hired any subsequent promotions and applications must be verified by that respective department.
It’s apparent that PSD did not follow up and never bothered to verify.
The Public Safety Department provided this statement to Hawaii News Now: “Recently, the media has alleged that Ms. Martinez lied on her application regarding her education. This is the first time that this allegation has been made. In response to this new allegation, PSD has initiated an investigation. We cannot respond to questions that concern pending investigation.”