Supervisor avoids jail
in theft from city

A supervisor at the Kailua Wastewater Treatment Plant will not have to serve any jail time for benefiting from the theft of city overtime.

Circuit Judge Michael Town granted Jay Gonsalves' request yesterday to defer his no-contest plea to third-degree theft for a period of one year, and also ordered him to perform 50 hours of community service.

Gonsalves, 44, pleaded no contest in February to allowing city employees to install a water sprinkler system at his mother's home on two Sundays in 2001.

He and fellow supervisor Harry Hauck were indicted last year on felony charges of second-degree theft and bribery as the result of an investigation into complaints of management abuses at the Kailua plant.

Gonsalves contends the employees went on their lunch hour to install the system and was not aware they were putting in overtime. He also denies charges that the materials used in the installation came from the city storeroom, and has receipts to prove it, said his attorney, Michael Green.

"This man has been exemplary his whole life, and he took responsibility," Green said.

Deputy Prosecutor Paul Mow asked for a year in jail and opposed the deferral, saying Gonsalves breached his duties as a city employee and should be ashamed of his conduct. "As supervisors they should be held to higher standards -- they have a responsibility to set an example to everyone else."

Last October, Hauck pleaded guilty to third-degree theft for going with another city employee to Gonsalves' mother's home in Enchanted Lake on city overtime to repair the sprinkler system that he maintains they installed while off duty. Hauck was also granted a one-year deferral.

Town said Gonsalves had earned the deferral by conducting himself well throughout his life other than in this instance. "You did an unlawful thing and you know that," he told Gonsalves.

George Smith, a Kailua pumping plant groundskeeper, said Gonsalves' sentence sends a clear message: "Managers can do whatever they want, and we rank-and-file, if we say something, we the bad guys."

He said Gonsalves and Hauck have since been promoted, while he and other employees who complained have suffered some form of retaliation. Last year, city officials said they had already taken administrative action against the supervisors and that no further action would be taken.

Smith said he believes he lost his operator job because he testified at arbitration hearings on behalf of another employee who was terminated for blowing the whistle on management abuses.

Solomon Silva, one of the employees who worked on the sprinkler system, said Gonsalves should have gone to jail.

"If he was remorseful and apologized to me for making us do what we did, I would have asked for leniency," he said.

Still pending is a lawsuit filed by four former and current waste-water employees against the city and waste-water officials. In that suit the employees allege they were retaliated against and harassed by their supervisors at the Kailua plant when they reported improprieties, including abuses of overtime and illegal use of city resources.

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