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Big Isle’s Na Leo TV resumes operations after FBI raid as board meets with CEO

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The board of directors of Na Leo o Hawaii announced over the weekend it met with Na Leo TV president and CEO Stacy K. Higa, who assured the board that management and staff are fully cooperating with an investigation being conducted by the FBI.

The FBI executed a search warrant Thursday at the Hilo offices of Na Leo TV, the operator of Public Educational and Governmental (PEG) Access channels for Hawaii island, but neither the FBI nor Na Leo has provided any answers as to the nature of the investigation, or any details concerning who specifically is being investigated.

The email said that the board was made aware of the federal investigation on Thursday.

Claude Onizuka, chairman of the board, said in a written statement issued Saturday in an email by Na Leo’s assistant general manager: “The Board is satisfied with the level of cooperation provided to date and will continue to closely monitor the situation to ensure full cooperation with the investigation.

“Because this is an ongoing investigation, the Board is unable to share more information at this time,” Onizuka said.

“However, the Board is pleased to note that all staff will continue with their assigned duties and that Na Leo TV has resumed its normal operations, subject to prevailing COVID-related guidelines.”

It is unclear whether Na Leo TV’s management, including Higa, are continuing their duties with the station.

Assistant General Manager Micah Alameda sent the statement on Saturday, but has not returned a call requesting clarification.

Onizuka has also not returned a call regarding whether Higa, who placed fifth in the Hawaii County mayoral primary, is also resuming his work with Na Leo, and whether Na Leo’s board of directors has reviewed the organization’s annual audit — or whether the audit has been completed yet.

The nonprofit organization falls under the purview of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. As all other PEG access operators, it hires its own auditor to conduct an annual audit.

DCCA cable administrator Ji Sook Kim said Thursday the agency has not yet received the nonprofit’s annual financial audit for 2020, which first goes to its board for review, then goes to the DCCA in 2021.

A review of its 2019 audit did not show anything of concern.

DCCA has not yet conducted a physical asset inventory for any of the PEG access operators this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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