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Kaua‘i politician threatened, prompting heightened security, multiple investigations

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Councilmembers listen as Chair Mel Rapozo announces heightened security measures at the Historic County Building. Billy DeCosta is center right. Photo: Scott Yunker/Kaua‘i Now

Kaua‘i County Councilmember Billy DeCosta – a fixture in local government for several years – was anonymously threatened last Tuesday, Council Chair Mel Rapozo revealed during an emergency council meeting convened Jan. 18.

The incident prompted ongoing investigations by the Kaua‘i Police Department, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security’s Hawai‘i State Fusion Center. An internal investigation within local county government is also forthcoming.

“Mr. DeCosta here received what I believe is a credible threat, in the way of a letter, poster or big paper … that he found on Jan. 16 at 2 p.m.,” Rapozo said. “I consider this a credible threat because of what was on it.”

However, Rapozo – the only council member to speak at length during Thursday’s emergency meeting – declined to disclose the contents of the document found in the Historic County Building in Līhu‘e.

“We’re not going to get into specifics here,” he said, noting he feared for the safety of all councilmembers, building staff and the general public.


“I don’t know who this person is. I don’t know how he got in, and it scares me that someone can come in and make that threat like that,” Rapozo continued.

The Historic County Building – which usually allows people to come and go freely – will now enter a state of heightened security until the situation is considered resolved. Going forward, visitors must sign in and out of the premises, and certain sections of the property will be deemed off-limits to the general public.

“We are working on getting full-time security personnel in our building from 7:45 to 4:30 every day,” Rapozo said. “We’re going to have someone here that will be monitoring who comes in and comes out … Some may think I’m overreacting, and maybe I am, but you know what we hear about all the time.

“We don’t know what’s on the minds of these people that are not happy or could be suffering from mental illness,” Rapozo continued. “I’m not going to take that chance. [We will have] a little bit of inconvenience for a short time until we can figure out how this occurred, and then we’ll take appropriate action.”

Aside from Rapozo, most council members remained silent throughout the emergency meeting. Only KipuKai Kuali‘i and Bernard Carvalho spoke briefly to express approval of Rapozo’s actions.


The 59-year-old DeCosta, a resident of ʻŌmaʻo, was first elected to the Kaua‘i County Council in 2020. A Kapa‘a High School building and construction teacher who served as an open space commissioner from 2003 to 2005, he often concerns himself with issues related to land and agriculture on the Garden Isle.

Recently, DeCosta was featured in a viral exposé of Meta billionaire Mark Zuckerberg’s massive compound located on the North Shore of Kaua‘i.

DeCosta credited Zuckerberg for making charitable donations to the island community and creating local construction jobs on his property, in the piece published by Wired.

“What’s better,” he told the publication, “one Zuckerberg who owns 1,000 acres, or 100 millionaires who each own 100 acres?”

Neither DeCosta nor the Kaua‘i Police Department immediately responded to requests for comment on this story.


Scott Yunker
Scott Yunker is a journalist living on Kauaʻi. His work for community newspapers has earned him awards and inclusion in the 2020 anthology "Corona City: Voices from an Epicenter."
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