Hawaii Deputy Fired After 40 Years of Service Files Wrongful Termination Claim

A former deputy sheriff recently filed a lawsuit against Hawaii’s Department of Public Safety, claiming he was a victim of wrongful termination.

The whistleblower, Tommy Cayetano, claimed former DPS Director Nolan Espinda fired him in 2020 despite him having a 38 year record of public service with no disciplinary actions. He also claims an internal affair investigation into the incident found he was not guilty of any wrongdoing.

Case background

The DPS originally began to investigate Cayetano for misconduct after his public testimony in a corruption trial in 2019. Cayetano did admit while on the stand that he used state vehicles while he was on duty as an officer to transport the uncle of Katherine Kealoha (who was on trial) to meet her while he was in custody.

An arbitrator restored Cayetano’s job with back pay in 2021 and said the DPS failed to include interviews of witnesses and Cayetano was performing his job to his duties while assisting another agency.

Cayetano’s lawyer said the lawsuit was specifically focused on damage to his reputation and for emotional distress. Cayetano didn’t just have a record without disciplinary actions—he also was recognized several times for his handling of dangerous situations and for courtroom security assignments. He’s been featured several times on the television show Dog the Bounty Hunter.

The DPS did not issue any comment because the suit was pending.

If you have been a victim of wrongful termination, you have the right to stand up for yourself and file a lawsuit against your former employer. For more information about how to proceed in such a case, contact an experienced whistleblower lawyer at Kardell Law Group.