WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden announced Friday that he is nominating Michael Contrades, a former deputy police chief in Kauai, to lead the U.S. Marshals Office in Hawaii.

Contrades also served as acting chief for the Kauai Police Department and most recently served as a field representative for U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele, who is considering a run for governor.

In a statement, the White House praised Contrades as well as other nominees as being “indispensable to upholding the rule of law as top federal law enforcement officials.”

“These individuals were chosen for their devotion to enforcing the law, their professionalism, their experience and credentials in this field, their dedication to pursuing equal justice for all, and their commitment to the independence of the Department of Justice,” the statement said.

The president’s nominee to lead the U.S. Marshals Office in Hawaii is Michael Contrades. He is a former deputy police chief for the Kauai Police Department. Allan Parachini/Civil Beat/2020

Contrades’ nomination is not without controversy.

In 2016, Contrades was named as a defendant in a federal lawsuit that accused him and then-KPD Chief Daryl Perry of retaliating against Mark Begley, a fellow high-ranking officer who had documented a complaint of sexual discrimination and sexual harassment made by a female subordinate.

According to the lawsuit, Perry, Contrades and others launched bogus investigations meant to intimidate and harass Begley and even detailed some of their plans in email communications. In one exchange, Contrades even wrote that it would be better for KPD if Begley was “not around.”

The case settled in 2020, with Kauai County agreeing to pay more than $1.8 million in damages. Part of the settlement agreement included a provision that Contrades would be banned from ever working for KPD so long as Begley was still employed there.

Among the lawyers representing Begley was Clare Connors, who currently serves as U.S. attorney for Hawaii, meaning she will be working closely with Contrades should he be confirmed by the Senate.

Loretta Sheehan, a former DOJ prosecutor, who also worked for Begley, said she was surprised to hear of Contrades’ nomination given the allegations that were lodged against him.

“The White House should be looking into this lawsuit because this is a case of blatant retaliation against an assistant chief who tried to do the right thing,” she said.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Contrades’ nomination.

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