State agency accused of covering up for high-level training officer now facing trial for perjury
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Labor Board is accusing the Department of Public Safety of covering up for a high-level training officer who now faces trial for perjury.
The 58-page ruling by the panel found that the previous leaders of the state Department of Public Safety were protecting J. Marte Martinez, the agency’s top trainer.
The panel also imposed a fine of $10,000.
“What’s disturbing about this is that the Department of Public Safety completely blocked every attempt by the Labor Board to get to the truth of the matter,” said legal expert Victor Bakke.
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In 2019, Martinez testified before the board against a fired corrections officer, who was trying to get his job back.
While that case was proceeding, a Hawaii News Now investigation showed major inconsistencies in Martinez’s resume. Specifically, her education and training claims could not be substantiated. In addition to the news reports, former state Sen. Clarence Nishihara publicly called on PSD to investigate her resume.
That prompted the Labor Board to launch their own investigation. According to the ruling the panel did so to determine if “Martinez had been dishonest about her qualifications.”
That probe showed that “PSD consciously, knowingly and deliberately failed to disclose and withheld information showing that Martinez was unqualified for the training position,” according to the ruling.
Megan Kau, another legal expert, called the accusation “stunning.”
“You’re calling out the credibility of another state agency,” she said.
The ruling further accused PSD of ignoring subpoenas, refusing to provide documents and allowing witnesses to not show up to hearings.
“They did everything possible to stop this,” Bakke said.
“If they had behaved this way in an actual courtroom, they would have been in jail for contempt.”
Bakke said the actions described in the ruling are “utterly disgusting.”
Ted Hong was the attorney representing the fired corrections officer in the hearing. “Finally, somebody is paying attention and called them on the carpet,” he said.
Last year, Martinez was arrested by the officers with the state Attorney General’s Office. She is charged with perjury and lying to authorities.
Her trial has been delayed until July, which allows her to remain on taxpayer-funded, leave.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety said they could not comment until their attorneys determine how they will proceed.
The statement also said they are reviewing the order and the $10,000 fine assessed by the Labor Board.
Martinez’s attorney, Birney Bervar, could not be reached for comment.
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