Chief, mayor react to charges against retired police officers

KAILUA-KONA — Two former Hawaii Island police officers are scheduled to make their first court appearances today in Hilo Circuit Court after being indicted earlier this week on various charges.

Chad Fukui, 67, of Hilo was one of five individuals charged with hindering prosecution, two counts of criminal conspiracy and tampering with physical evidence.

Four civilians were included in the indictment: Lance Yamada, Stacey Yamada, David Colon and Ivar Kaluhikaua.

Warrants were issued Tuesday for the arrest of Fukui and the four civilians. Fukui turned himself in Wednesday morning and posted $2,000 bail.

Former HPD Detective Brian Miller, 55, was charged in a separate indictment on drug offenses as well as charges connecting him to Fukui and the other defendants. The drug charges relate to a 2018 missing evidence investigation conducted by the Hawaii Police Department.

Miller also turned himself in Wednesday and posted $10,000 bail.

Miller and Fukui are scheduled to make their initial court appearances today.

Kaluhikaua, 43, also turned himself in Wednesday and posted $2,000 bail. He, too, is scheduled to make his initial court appearance today.

“When something like this happens I feel like a deflated balloon,” said Mayor Harry Kim on Wednesday. “It breaks the element of trust with the community.”

Miller was charged with fourth-degree theft, obstructing government operations, three counts tampering with physical evidence by destroying or mutilating it, second-degree theft, first-degree promoting a dangerous drug, second-degree hindering prosecution, conspiracy to commit second-degree hindering prosecution and conspiracy to commit tampering with physical evidence by destroying or mutilating it.

The indictments were filed Tuesday.

While Police Chief Paul Ferreira couldn’t speak to how the news affected each officer in the department, he said he’s sure they are just as disappointed as him, “as it puts a bad cloud over all of the department.”

“I would like to say that these incidents are isolated, and is not a reflection of the outstanding individuals we have in the department,” Ferreira said. “And it should not detract from the outstanding work that they do every day.”

Kim said he found out through the media what the charges were against the former officers.

“Your first impression is disbelief and you hope it’s not true,” he said. “But’s a true disappointment that it’s happened. It hurts all of us who work to establish trust.”

Ferreira did call Kim on Monday night about the coming indictments, the mayor said, but he didn’t have any communication with the police chief or prosecutor’s office about what was coming.

“This is hurtful, to be quite frank,” Kim said. “The most important thing is that people trust what we do.”

The Hawaii Police Department initially forwarded the drug investigation into one of their own, later identified as Miller, to the Hawaii County prosecutor’s office in March 2018 after cocaine was found missing from the Hilo evidence storage facility.

The police investigation began in fall 2017 when an amount of cocaine, originally recovered in 2014, was found to be lighter than reported during its initial recovery.

County Prosecutor Mitch Roth then forwarded it, after review, to the state attorney general’s office, which assigned it to the Honolulu prosecutor’s office because of a conflict of interest.

Honolulu determined in October there was no probable cause to support criminal charges.

Prosecutors on Tuesday said they began reviewing the case again after receiving more information in December.

The conflict of interest that existed in March 2018 that kept Hawaii County prosecutors from pursuing the case was also resolved.

Both former officers will keep their full pensions regardless of the outcomes of their cases, according to police.

Miller retired as a detective Feb. 2, 2018, after 26 years of service, before the department could complete its internal investigation.

Ferreira said once an individual leaves the department, any disciplinary actions that result from an administrative investigation are held in abeyance, or not imposed, as they are no longer under the department’s control.

Ferreira said no administrative investigation was conducted on behalf of Fukui, as his alleged actions happened after he left the department.

Fukui retired as a captain June 30, 2006, after serving 34 years. He applied for police chief in 2008, but Deputy Chief Harry Kubojiri was chosen.

After his time on the force, he worked for the Hawaii County prosecutor’s office as an investigator from 2007 to 2014.

The prosecutor’s office has looked at previous cases where Miller and Fukui were primary investigators. For Miller, prosecutors looked into several old cases during their initial review of the 2018 investigation.

The criminal activity of which Fukui is accused reportedly occurred after his time on both the police force and as an investigator at the prosecutor’s office.

During Fukui’s time at the prosecutor’s office, Roth said Fukui worked in the elder abuse unit but wasn’t a primary investigator.

According to the indictment, Miller is accused of wrongdoings during three separate time frames. Between July 13, 2014, and July 20, 2015, he’s accused of removing FedEx parcels and hindering law enforcement while acting under the color of law enforcement officer’s official authority.

During a time period from May 3-9, 2016, Miller is accused of taking cocaine while it was in police property under deception as well as possessing a compound of drugs.

He’s also accused of destroying or altering physical evidence.

On Aug. 10, 2017, Miller reportedly conspired to tip off individuals about an imminent search warrant related to gambling operations as well as to remove or destroy gambling devices.

The August incident is allegedly connected to Fukui’s indictment. The former officer and the four civilians are accused of tampering with evidence and intentionally trying to destroy or remove gambling devices.

On Aug. 10, 2017, police conducted a raid on a Hilo arcade establishment, Triple 7, owned by Stacey and Lance Yamada. The Yamada brothers were charged in a separate gambling-related case in March.

Email Tiffany DeMasters at tdemasters@westhawaiitoday.com.

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