Hawaii prosecutors have accused the head of training for state public safety officers of lying about her educational background during a 2019 investigation and on job applications with the state.
Public Safety Training Officer J. Marte Martinez was arrested Thursday morning, the state Department of Public Safety said. Martinez allegedly falsified transcripts from two mainland universities, according to court documents filed by the state Attorney General’s office.
Martinez had been in charge of training of corrections officers and state deputy sheriffs.
A court filing indicates Martinez was under investigation by the public safety department sometime in 2019. That same year, Martinez was the subject of a Hawaii News Now story that delved into the details of her questionable background.
Martinez and DPS came under fire in 2019 by state senators during a contentious round of public hearings over former Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda’s nomination. Espinda was confirmed but retired in 2020.
The state Attorney General’s Office charged Martinez with two counts of perjury, which is a class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Martinez, who was hired by DPS in 2014, also faced six counts of tampering with a government record and six counts of falsifying information to authorities – all of which are misdemeanors.
Martinez was released Thursday on an $11,000 bond. She couldn’t be reached for comment.
In a written statement, Public Safety Director Max Otani said the department “holds their employees regardless of rank or title to the highest standard of integrity and will hold them accountable if they breach the public’s trust.”
“However, as we await the outcome of the investigation, it is important to keep in mind that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” Otani said.
The information filing laying out the case against Martinez described how she allegedly lied about her educational background and qualifications on multiple applications filed with the DPS between 2015 and 2019.
Martinez falsified transcripts from Southern Oregon University and the University of Northern Virginia as part of her job application to be the DPS training officer, prosecutors allege.
During a Hawaii Labor Relations Board hearing in December 2019, Martinez testified that she earned a liberal arts degree from the University of Northern Virginia. She was asked about an internal affairs investigation, and she said that she provided her transcripts to the investigator, according to the court filing.
Prosecutors allege in the court document that Martinez lied during the hearing. More details regarding the internal investigation and the AG’s own investigation into Martinez weren’t available. Exhibits in the criminal case were filed under seal.
In a written response to questions, DPS said Martinez is still employed with the department. The personnel investigation into Martinez was completed in October 2019.
Read the filing below.
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Blaze Lovell is spending a year as a local investigations fellow with The New York Times. He was previously a reporter for Civil Beat. Born and raised on Oahu, Lovell is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. You can reach him at email@example.com.