KAILUA-KONA — The state Department of the Attorney General has recommended the Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office review a case naming a former Hawaii County police officer as a person of interest in the theft of drug evidence.
The Hawaii Police Department sent the case to Hawaii County Prosecutor’s Office on March 2 for review of possible charges. After reviewing the pages-long document, Prosecutor Mitch Roth referred the case to the Attorney General’s office as conflicts were identified.
“We’re referring it to avoid even the appearance of impropriety or conflicts,” Roth said.
Dana Viola, special assistant to the attorney general, confirmed Thursday that the office did receive the referral and recommended Honolulu prosecutors look into the matter.
Viola said aside from that, in order to protect the process, it is the office’s policy not to discuss any aspect of investigations.
The Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office confirmed it received the case Thursday for review. If charges are filed, officials say they will be filed through the 3rd Circuit Court in Hilo.
On March 15, the police department released information that a former Hawaii County police officer was a person of interest after drugs were found missing from evidence. The initial investigation began in October 2017. According to authorities, cocaine recovered as evidence in 2014 was found to be lighter than reported during its initial recovery.
A police press release states the discrepancy was discovered when the evidence was being weighed in preparation to utilize a small quantity of the drug for training purposes.
At the time of the investigation, the release indicates, the officer was immediately placed on administrative leave without pay. Audits of other evidence recovered by the officer revealed “other anomalies, which revealed cases whereby there was a weight discrepancy in marijuana concentrate (hashish), from two separate investigations.”
The officer has since retired from the department. Roth said he believed the individual retired this year; however, it could have been at the end of 2017. Roth didn’t know if the former employee was receiving retirement benefits.
In an interview on Hawaii Public Radio, Police Chief Paul K. Ferreira said the officer held the rank of detective. The former officer’s years of service were not disclosed. The officer’s identity was also not released, nor was the amount of drugs missing.
Ferreira has declined to make further statements regarding the investigation.
“As stated in the media release this is still an open investigation, therefore no additional comments will be made by me or my staff,” Ferreira wrote in an email on March 15.