City settles retaliation case involving Carlisle

Published: May. 10, 2012 at 8:24 PM HST|Updated: May. 10, 2012 at 10:24 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The city is paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle a retaliation lawsuit by a former investigator at the prosecutor's office, bringing to a close the only high-visibility scandal during Mayor Peter Carlisle's 14-year career as city prosecutor.

Craig Whang claimed he was targeted in a criminal case after he raised concerns about possible workplace violence at the prosecutor's office.

In 2004, the office of then-prosecutor Carlisle started an investigation of Whang into the possible theft of equipment.

"I quickly concluded that there was the potential of a criminal case," Carlisle told reporters at a news conference eight years ago.

"The areas of concern included questionable purchase orders, unaccounted inventory and city and county law enforcement equipment at a private residence including a large amount of ammunition," found at Whang's Mililani home, Carlisle said in 2004.

In 2008, Whang avoided prison time when he pleaded guilty to two second-degree theft counts and admitted to counts of improperly accessing a computer in the prosecutor's office.  A judge fined him $2,500.

Whang's defense attorney Michael Green filed a civil suit against the city, claiming the investigation and criminal case against Whang were in retaliation for raising concerns that another investigator might become violent at work.

"The beginning of the end of his career was simply asking for an investigation so that no one got hurt in the office, which is something he was duty-bound to do by the procedures that he agreed to when he took on the job," Green said.

The City Council approved a settlement in Whang's lawsuit Thursday, paying him $325,000, sources said.

"It doesn't give him back his career.  It gives him some sense of knowing that what he did was right. But he paid a terrible price for it," Green said.

Asked if this case is an example of bad management by Carlisle, who's now running for re-election as mayor, Green said "no."

"I was convinced in this case, he (Carlisle) really wasn't apprised by his deputies and his assistants, his top people as to what was going on.  And because of that, it was my decision not to sue Peter personally," Green said.

Green said after he filed suit in 2004, Carlisle called Green and told him he needed to sue Carlisle personally, because the buck stopped with him. Green said he amended the lawsuit to include Carlisle.

A spokeswoman for Carlisle said on the advice of the private lawyer hired with city funds to defend him the case, he declined to comment.

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