Honolulu Flags Troubled Senior Center for Possible Illegal Kickbacks

Adrienne LaFrance/Civil Beat

UPDATED 9/19/12 8:25 a.m.

A Wahiawa senior center already under federal investigation may have received illegal kickbacks from a construction company, according to documents obtained by Civil Beat.

Honolulu city attorneys say they found a 2004 letter showing ORI Anuenue Hale asked for a $90,000 donation in exchange for a multi-million dollar construction contract. Although there's no way to tell from the letter whether the transaction was executed, it prompted the city to notify the U.S. Attorney's office.

City attorneys explained as much in an Aug. 20 letter to Budget Director Michael Hansen and Community Services Director Sam Moku. The attorneys described the 2004 letter from ORI President Susanna Cheung to KORL Construction in which Cheung agrees to a $5.3 million construction contract under the condition that the company would then donate $90,000 to ORI.

The possible pay-to-play deal between ORI and KORL was uncovered as part of a probe of ORI by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that began more than a year ago. (Civil Beat broke the news of that investigation last year, and has since followed it closely, including examining 10 years of ORI documents and the Carlisle administration's decision to forgive $1.2 million in city loans to ORI.)

Have feedback? Suggestions?