EWA BEACH, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Legal disputes between developers and homeowners associations often get heated. But it's not every day that a developer gets accused of spying on its residents.
That's what owners at the Hoakalei project say happened and they say they have the emails to prove it.
"Even when I saw the emails I couldn't believe it: 'Get a spy,' 'replace the board.' You're not supposed to do any of this," said state Rep. Matt LoPresti.
"It's stealing from us and misrepresenting, it's lying, it's theft, it's dirty tactics."
LoPresti is one of a number of Hoakalei residents who are suing developer Haseko, alleging the company reneged on plans to build a multi-million dollar marina.
He said emails obtained as part of the lawsuit show that Haseko officials urged the homeowners association's management company to "get a spy" to attend the condo board's meetings and report back to them.
He said another email shows that Haseko tried to get rid of critics on the association's board.
"It went beyond spying, they tried to remove the board and replace them with people friendly to the developer. I mean, you can't make this stuff up," he said.
Officials at Haseko and the management firm, Associa, had no comment.
However, a person familiar with the company said the information was not confidential since most of the association meetings were held in public.
LoPresti said he now hopes to introduce legislation that will require management firms to disclose any potential conflicts of interests.
"I think there's a long history in this state of developers lying to their communities and then expecting to get away with it Scott-free," he said.
The homeowners lawsuit against Haseko goes to trial next month.