Mark Patterson, administrator of the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility, has been fined $1,500 for violating the state ethics code by using state resources and time to benefit private individuals and organizations.
And the institutional facility superintendent, Darrell Bueno, was assessed a $4,000 penalty for commandeering state property for his personal use. He said he had also used state property for the benefit of other private entities at the direction of his supervisor, who is Patterson.
Both cases were investigated by the State Ethics Commission and the “resolutions of charges” were posted on its website last week. The resolutions are based on facts admitted to by the parties.
Patterson, who also chairs the Hawaii Correctional Systems Oversight Commission, admitted to violations that took place from 2018 through 2020.
He acknowledged allowing a private religious organization to store several trailers with equipment on state property for more than two years without paying rent. He also authorized Bueno to use a state tractor to clear a private pasture for a rodeo event for a nonprofit organization. And he admitted authorizing the use of a trailer for non-state purposes.
Patterson described the organizations as “partners” and said the actions were reciprocal. He said the religious group offers some services to the youth held at the correctional facility and that, from time to time, ranchers also help the facility with its cattle operations.
But the favors provided, according to the commission, were out of line because they “benefited those private organizations and individuals — not the state or the public at large.”
‘The Fair Treatment law prohibits state officials from doling out state resources to benefit private organizations in this manner,” the commission wrote.
In addition to his job at the facility, Bueno has his own cattle business, dB Cattle Inc. On two occasions in 2020, while on state time, he bought cattle from Hawaii Meats and used a Youth Facility truck and trailer to deliver the animals to his Maunawili and Kunia properties, bringing another state employee with him.
Bueno also admitted using state equipment on multiple occasions for his personal use, his company, or other private entities. The equipment including a riding lawnmower, a tractor, a trailer and a hydraulic tamper.
“Respondent Bueno maintains that he had the approval of his supervisor to use this equipment for non-HYCF purposes,” the commission wrote. “Respondent Bueno maintains that for many years, up to and including 2020, it was common practice for HYCF employees to use state equipment for their personal use, including but not limited to lawn mowers, chainsaws, weed trimmers and tile cutters.”
State law prohibits use of an “employee’s official position to secure or grant unwarranted privileges, exemptions, advantages, contracts or treatment for oneself or others.”
The commission referred both cases to the Department of Human Services “for further disciplinary action as appropriate.”