Despite Indictment in Federal Investigation, BWS Board Member Refuses to Resign


HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — More than four months after being arrested and charged in connection with the ongoing Kealoha corruption probe, Max Sword has not resigned from the Board of Water Supply’s board of directors — nor has he does not intend to do so.

Sword was named to the panel by former mayor Kirk Caldwell.

The retired Outrigger Hotels lobbyist was indicted by a grand jury in January and is accused of conspiring with two other former city executives to pay off disgraced former police chief Louis Kealoha.

Court records indicate the three staged the plan to circumvent the Honolulu City Council, which likely would have refused payment.

Sword was part of another volunteer panel at the time – the Honolulu Police Commission.

Sandy Ma of Common Cause Hawaii said Sword should step down from the BWS board.

“He should definitely think about what’s best for the people,” she said. “What’s best for the Water Supply Board and other members on the board, does he want to be a distraction?”

According to the BWS website, the agency is governed by the seven-member board of directors.

The BWS is at a critical point as drought and Navy fuel contamination is expected to trigger water restrictions soon.

“It’s very clear, Max should step back from any obligation he has to any board that has anything to do with public trust,” said legal expert Victor Bakke.

“If he’s allowed, he can come back,” Bakke said.

A BWS spokesperson said in a statement this week that “the applicable rules do not provide for the removal of board members who have been charged with a felony or misdemeanor.”

Retired federal public defender Alexander Silvert said Sword did not need to be retired.

“You really have to look at the load, you have to look at the work that the person is doing,” Silvert said.

Silvert said if Sword was still on the police commission, then he should step down. But the BWS Board is not an enforcement panel.

Sword’s attorney, William McCorriston, said in a statement that his client pleaded not guilty for good reason.

“The transaction involving Chief Kealoha’s severance package was deemed appropriate by the city,” McCorriston said, adding that his client will continue to serve the community on the council.

Sword and his co-defendants requested a trial by judge, not jury.

A hearing on this motion is scheduled for May.

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