Kauai pair facing federal charges over contracts


POSTED: Thursday, March 26, 2009

A federal grand jury returned an indictment yesterday charging a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee on Kauai with steering two contracts to businesses in which he had a hidden interest.

The indictment charges heavy-equipment operator Kevyn Paik with two counts of participating in a matter affecting an executive branch employee's interest.

It also charges Paik and former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service heavy-equipment operator James Alan Duarte with three counts each of wire fraud and four counts each of mail fraud.

The contracts were for renovation and improvement work the government ordered in an area of the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge known as “;Pond C.”;

According to the indictment, Duarte performed the work using equipment he purchased from Paik. In addition to working for the government, Paik owns and operates a private landscaping business on Kauai, the indictment said.

The contracts were awarded to unnamed straw contractors who kept a portion of the money and passed the rest on to Duarte. Both contracts, awarded in 2005, were for amounts below the $25,000 threshold that would have required a full bidding process, according to the indictment.

The first contract was for $22,000, but a change order was later awarded for an additional $3,000, the indictment said. The second contract was for $23,500.

The indictment charges Paik with failing to disclose his interest in the companies that were awarded the contracts.

The wire and mail fraud charges are for the transfer of money electronically and by check.