By EnviroWatch, Inc.
EnviroWatch, Inc. has received several phone calls reporting an alleged incident
involving electric shock equipment for taking aquatic life from Wailau stream, Moloka'i.
The callers expressed concern that a cover up was occuring in the investigation of a State
employee and his son, a Federal employee. This concern resulted in the request to
EnviroWatch, Inc., to check into the possible cover up in the investigation. EnviroWatch,
Inc. was told that Wesley Wong, Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), Maui Branch
Chief and his son Matthew Wong, United States Geological Survey (USGS), were suspects in
the alleged shocking activity.
EnviroWatch, Inc. was informed that the Division of Conservation and Resource
Enforcement (DOCARE), Maui Division, has confiscated two electrical shocking devices.
EnviroWatch, Inc. submitted a request for information to Mr. Keith Keau, DOCARE, Maui
Branch Chief, which seeks information on field arrest reports, citations, final
disposition of investigation, disposition of evidence and photographs. Photographs of the
evidence are of particular interest of EnviroWatch, Inc., as they may be used for a
comparison against the descriptions and drawings provided by the witnesses.
EnviroWatch, Inc. phoned Mr. Bill Puleloa, Aquatic Biologist stationed on
Moloka'i, and left a message requesting information on the alleged shocking incident. Mr.
Puleloa returned our call and informed us that DOCARE, Maui Branch was investigating the
alleged incident and refered EnviroWatch, Inc. to contact Mr. Keith Keau, DOCARE, Maui
Branch Chief, which we again did. EnviroWatch, Inc has not received any response to our
initial request for information and photographs or our follow-up request for information.
EnviroWatch, Inc. contacted Mr. Timothy Johns, Chairman, State of Hawai'i, Department
of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and provided him with the information we obtained.
The Chairman acknowledged that a possible conflict of interest did exist and requested the
Attorney General's Office to take over the investigation, which they did on May 18, 1999.
A witness to the alledged incident, Mr. Mitchell Duvauchelle, told EnviroWatch, Inc.
that he was concerned that Mr. Michael Mangca, Moloka'i DOCARE Officer had attended a May
19, 1999 community meeting and requested personal information from him. He was also
concerned that Mr. Bill Everson, Maui Forestry Officer, (under Wesley Wong) attended the
meeting and asked him for descriptions of the suspects. Mitchell said he felt
intimidated, so he provided the information to Mangca and Everson. This occured the day
after DOCARE was supposedly removed from the investigation.
Mitchell reported to EnviroWatch, Inc., that he was in Wailau Valley searching for two
hunting dogs he lost the previous day. He said he heard voices coming from the stream area
and went to see who it was. He said he saw two men standing next to the stream. An older
man and a younger man. The older man stood next to a black hexagon shaped box, which was
about six feet long. He said the box had two wires coming out of it, one red the other
black. The wires were entwined, but were spaced apart at the ends where each wire was
stretched across the bottom of the stream and the excess wire was coiled on the bank of
Mitchell reported that the older man operated some type of switch in the box and after
he did this, the younger man went into the stream with a net and scooped up prawns
(shrimp), o'opu (freshwater fish) and hihiwai (fresh water limpet) that were stunned and
floating around in the stream.
Mitchell said he approached the two men and asked if they worked for the State
Department of Water or Aquatic Resources; they said "No". He said he asked
them how they got there and they said "by helicopter". Mitchell said he
asked what their names were, but the two men just stood there looking at each other,
without answering. Mitchell reported that he saw two mesh bags about the size of large
trash bags, one was filled with o'opu and prawns, the other with hihiwai. On the bank of
the stream, Mitchell said he saw two backpacks and a white bucket. Knowing that it was
illegal to use shocking devices in streams, Mitchell said he became outraged and let them
know how he felt. He then left the scene to continue looking for his dogs. Later that same
day, Molokai residents Simoi Luafalemana, his son Justin and several others were working
their way up the stream, gathering hihiwai for their families. Simoi uses a dive mask when
gathering hihiwai and when he reached a certain point in the stream, he described seeing
whitish lines on the rocks and the area was barren of aquatic life. He did see dead prawns
of various sizes floating down the stream and said the prawns appeared to have been
cooked. At that point, he stuck his head out of the water and saw two men.
Simoi got out of the water and appoached the older man who was smoking a cigar.
Simoi reported that he saw two mesh bags filled with hihiwai, o'opu, and prawns. Simoi was
so impressed by the large amount of the two men's catch that he remarked that even if his
whole group were to gather all day, they wouldn't be able to gather the amount seen in the
two bags. Meanwhile, Justin approached and spoke with the younger man, who told Justin his
name was Mat.
Looking on the bank of the stream, Simoi said he saw a long black plastic box
shaped like a "stop sign". Simoi reported that the black box would require two
men to carry, that even a husky guy like himself would not be able to hoist that box.
Other members of Simoi's group were Alan Kong and his teenage son Frank. Alan reported
that he saw several dozen hihiwai of various sizes, detached from the rocks and trapped in
the streams eddies. Alan said he has never seen anything like this before, in all his
years of gathering in this stream.
Mitchell reported that later in the day he saw a helicopter approach the area and land
in a taro patch next to the stream. Mitchell said the pilot stayed in the helicopter and
the two men loaded their equipment into the bluish colored helicopter and left the valley.
Mitchell reported that he noticed a number (144-HD) on the helicopter. Clarence Inoka, who
was gathering aquatic life from the stream for his family, reported that he also saw the
same helicopter Mitchell had reported.
EnviroWatch, Inc. discovered that the helicopter belonged to Windward Aviation
Helicopter and that their Receptionist, Amy, reported on 5-11-99, that Mat Wong, USGS
contracted the helicopter. EnviroWatch, inc. contacted Windward Aviation and Ms. Beverly
Shearer stated that "Wes Wong is a long time friend of the family and the service
provided to him and his son Matthew on May 7, 1999 to Moloka'i was a gift or favor to
them, no one paid for the service." This contradicts the statement made by Amy,
Windward Aviation Receptionist.
EnviroWatch, Inc. was able to discuss the alledged incident with Mr. Don Shearer,
Owner/Pilot of Windward Aviation, on two seperate occasions. On the first ocassion, Mr.
Shearer said that he took Wes and Mat Wong to Wailau Valley and dropped them off on his
way to Oahu to do some work for VoiceStream. He said Wes and Mat only had two backpacks
with them, nothing more. He said he picked them up in the afternoon and returned to Maui.
On the second ocassion that EnviroWatch, Inc. spoke with Mr. Shearer, he stated that Wes
and Mat Wong also had a two feet long black plastic tube with them.
EnviroWatch, Inc. contacted the office of Mr. Michael Buck, DOFAW Administrator,
regarding the alleged shocking incident. Mr. Buck was not available, so EnviroWatch, inc.
left a message with Mr. Buckıs Secretary, that we would like to interview him regarding
the allegations against DOFAW, Maui Branch Chief, Wesley Wong Mr. Buck returned our call
and left a recorded message: "....electric shocking stuff on Maui. I have no idea
what you are talking about, not to my knowledge. You want to give me a call and tell me a
little bit more? I donıt know any reason we would be involved in that kind of
EnviroWatch, Inc. later spoke with Mr. Buck in person, he said that he spoke to Wes
Wong and Wes told him that the allegations against him were not true. Mr. Buck said he
believed Wes because Wes is an honest man. He said that the allegations against Wes were
generated by pakalolo (Marijuana) growers to keep people from discovering their pakalolo
Note: These allegations would draw the authorities attention toward this area,
not away from pakalolo fields as Mr. Buck had stated. As the Administrator of DOFAW, Mr.
Michael Buck is the Direct Supervisor of Wesley Wong and it comes as a surprise that Mr.
Buck did not have any knowledge of these very serious allegations against Mr. Wong at this
point, nearly two weeks after the accusations were known.
EnviroWatch, Inc. was able to contact and speak with Matthew Wong (son of Wesley Wong)
on 5-27-99. Matthew said he and his Dad had two backpacks and a three foot long gray tube
that he carries his spear in. Matthew said he used the spear to catch prawns in the
stream. Matthew said he had not yet been contacted by anyone regarding an investigation
into the alleged shocking incident. This was nearly three weeks after the investigation
EnviroWatch, Inc. sent a request for information to the United States Geological Survey
(USGS), employer of Matthew Wong. A reply was received on May 23, from Mr. William Meyer,
USGS District Chief, who states in his letter: "Mr. Wong is a hydrologic
technician, USGS, Duty Station, Kahului, Maui. The USGS also conducts studies on the
distribution and ecology of native and introduced organisms in the streams of Hawaii and
selected individuals within the agency have state permits to utilize electroshocking to
assist these studies. This latter activity is not a normal part of Mr. Wong's duties,
however, and the USGS is not currently conducting such activities on Moloka'i."
Mr. Meyer goes on to state: "The USGS also contracts services from Windward
Aviation, Maui, at selected times, but Windward Aviation was not being utilized by this
office on May 7, 1999. Mr. Matthew Wong was on annual leave on that day, and if any
connection between Mr. Wong and Windward Aviation existed on the date of May 7, 1999, it
EnviroWatch, Inc. has provided all of the information we have, to DLNR, Chairman, Mr.
Timothy Johns, and to the Attorney General's Special Investigator, Mr Lloyd Shimabuku. The
Attorney General's Special Investigator conducted interviews with the Moloka'i witnesses
on May 26, and 27, 1999 and he attended a special meeting held on May 27, 1999.
EnviroWatch, Inc. requested DLNR, Chairman, Mr. Timothy Johns, to meet with the Moloka'i
community, to address their concerns and assure them that DOCARE has in fact been removed
from the investigation.
Mr. Bill Puleloa, Aquatic Biologist stationed on Moloka'i, was kind enough to assist
with arrangements to reserve the Mitchell Pauole Center as the meeting location. He also
assisted with notifying the community that the DLNR Chairman would be coming to Moloka'i
to hear their concerns. Mr. Puleloa acted as facilitator of the meeting and he set the
tone for a cool headed discussion on this very flammable issue.
The DLNR Chairman placed a high priority on the May 27,1999 meeting on Moloka'i,
canceling his appearance at an emergency cabinet meeting with Governor Cayetano to be
there. During the meeting, members of the community expressed serious concerns that the
DLNR might retailate against their family members working within the department. Mr. Johns
assured them that he would not tolerate any form of retaliation from any member within his
department. He said he would take swift action against any person in his department who
attempted to retaliate against any witnesses or their family members and told the meeting
participants that if any such action occurs, to call him directly.
Mr. Johns assured everyone that DLNR regards the allegations most seriously and will do
whatever necessary to resolve this most grave matter. The Chairman did a terriffic job of
maintaining the delicate balance between addressing the communities concerns, while
protecting the rights of the suspects. As the old saying goes: "Innocent Until Proven
Guilty"; this is a right we all have!
At the conclusion of the meeting, it was apparent that the Chairman's willingness to
meet with the community, hear their concerns and provide what answers he could, made a
major difference in the communityıs attitude towards the DLNR. We can see by Mr, Johns
actions, that he is sending a strong message to his agency, that he will not tolerate
corruption under his leadership.
Finally, we can see that he will not be conducting "Business as Usual" and
that Hawaii's citizens will benefit from his handling of this matter. The Attorney General
is investigating the alleged shocking incident and EnviroWatch, Inc. will provide updates
on the allegations as they unfold.