EXCLUSIVE: Kauai to pay more than $250K to settle wrongful prosecution case
Kauai County is paying more than $250,000 to settle a wrongful prosecution lawsuit by County Councilman Tim Bynum, Hawaii News Now has learned.
Bynum's suit accused former Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho of retaliating against him by filing criminal charges after he questioned the financial activities of the prosecutor's office.
The suit -- which was filed by former Hawaii Attorney General Margery Bronster and Kauai lawyer Daniel Hempey -- said the charges were for alleged zoning violations that were later tossed.
Legal experts said the settlement is significant because prosecutors are usually immune from such lawsuits.
"For the county to give up their immunity defense and settle for a sum of that amount is a good indication that not only did they not have a good case but they would be punished even more," said defense attorney Victor Bakke.
"It's a large amount for a settlement."
The deal comes after several highly-publicized misconduct incidents under Iseri-Carvalho's watch.
In 2012, the county paid an undisclosed settlement to one of Iseri-Carvalho's employees for workplace harassment.
And just last year, a judge threw out a theft case against an aide to Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho.
Iseri-Carvahlo's office pursued the charges, even though she didn't have enough votes from a grand jury to indict the woman.
"This is not an isolated complaint against Ms. Carvahlo. She's been accused of misconduct on a number of levels," Bakke said.
The former prosecutor could not be reached. According to court filings, Iseri-Carvalho did not take part in the settlement negotiations.
The lawsuit was partly based on tape recordings that were made by Iseri-Carvahlo's former first Deputy Jake Delaplane.
In them, County Planning officials admitted that the case against Bynum was for political reasons. They also joked about committing perjury if they were caught, Bynum's attorneys said.
"It's a political feud and Ms. Carvalho used her political office to gain an advantage," Bakke said.
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