KAILUA-KONA — Two separate indictments were filed Monday against two retired police officers, each with more than 20 years of service.
Brian Miller was indicted on charges related to a 2018 missing evidence investigation at the Hawaii Police Department. Chadwick Fukui was charged with hindering prosecution and conspiracy related offenses in a gambling case, in which Miller also is facing charges.
A Kona grand jury convened Monday and evidence was heard on various drug and gambling charges against the former officers. More than 20 witnesses were called, including current and former Hawaii Police Department officers as well as civilians.
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.
Fukui was charged with hindering prosecution; two counts of criminal conspiracy; and tampering with physical evidence.
“It is what it is. If officers are doing wrong, we’re going to prosecute,” Hawaii Police Chief Paul Ferreira said Tuesday.
The indictments against the two former officers were filed separately Tuesday morning. However, the indictment on Fukui, a 34-year veteran to Hawaii Police, was joined by civilians Lance Yamada, Stacey Yamada, David Colon and Ivar Kaluhikaua.
The Yamada brothers, Colon and Kaluhikaua also face charges of criminal conspiracy; hindering prosecution; and tampering with evidence.
Arrest warrants have been issued for all six individuals. Bail for Miller was set at $10,000 and $2,000 for the other five suspects.
According to the indictment against Miller he “intentionally, by way of physical interference or obstacle,” removed FedEx parcels and hindered law enforcement while acting under the color of law enforcement officer’s official authority. This occurred sometime between June 13, 2014, through July 30, 2015.
Sometime between May 3 and May 9, 2016, the indictment indicates Miller intentionally obtained control of cocaine, which was property of Hawaii Police Department, by deception. He also reportedly possessed one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances of one ounce or more, containing heroin, morphine or cocaine or any of their respective salts isomers.
Also during this time period, the indictment indicates Miller destroyed, mutilated, concealed, removed or altered physical evidence (cocaine) with the intent to “impair its verity in the pending prospective official proceeding.”
The indictment states that on or about Aug. 10, 2017, Miller reportedly conspired to tip off individuals on an imminent search warrant related to gambling operations as well as to remove or destroy gambling devices.
Lance and Stacey Yamada were charged in March on gambling-related charges. Tuesday’s charges are connected to a raid that occurred at arcade establishment Triple 7, at the Kamehameha Avenue location in Hilo, on Aug. 10, 2017.
According to the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs website, Triple 7 was owned by LY20 LLC, whose members include the Yamadas, plus Richard Yamada, Roy Horihata and the Fujimotos.
Triple 7 was raided on at least two other occasions: on March 1, 2016, located at 500 Manono St. and later at 224 Kamehameha Ave. and on July 20, 2012, at the Manono Street location, when it was known as 777 Arcade.
Fukui, the Yamadas, Colon and Kaluhikaua are accused of tampering with evidence and intentionally trying to destroy or remove gambling devices.
“There’s gonna be something that pops up, especially in an island community,” Ferreira said.
Ferreira said the department takes complaints against officers seriously. If they needed to be suspended, they’re suspended. If they need to be terminated, they’re terminated.
Hawaii Police initially forwarded their drug investigation into one of their own sworn personnel to the Hawaii County Prosecutor’s Office on March 2, 2018, after cocaine was found missing from the Hilo evidence storage facility.
After reviewing the case, County Prosecutor Mitch Roth forwarded it to the Attorney General’s Office in Honolulu, which assigned it to the Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office because of a conflict of interest.
After months of reviewing the case, Honolulu determined in October there was no probable cause to support a charge of Securing the Proceeds of an Offense or any other crime.
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 has been resolved. That conflict occurred in the Hilo office, prosecutors said, but could not go into more detail.
The initial police investigation began in fall 2017 when cocaine, originally recovered in 2014, was found to be lighter than reported during its initial recovery. The discrepancy was discovered when the evidence was being weighed in preparation to utilize a small quantity of the cocaine for training purposes.
The investigation identified a sworn employee as a person of interest for the missing portions of the drug, police said. The employee was placed on administrative leave without pay and subsequent audits of other evidence recovered by the officer revealed other anomalies, which revealed cases where there was a weight discrepancy in marijuana concentrate, (hashish), from two separate investigations.
Miller retired as a detective after 26 years of service on Feb. 2, 2018. He worked in South Kohala, Puna and Hilo.
Fukui retired as a captain after 34 years of service on June 30, 2006. He worked in Hilo, Kona Puna, North Kohala and South Kohala. 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.
Officials at the prosecutor’s office say this was not the conflict of interest that prompted the office to send the case to Honolulu.
Both men retired with full pensions, which they will keep if they are convicted of any criminal charges, according to police.
The cases will be heard in Circuit Court in Hilo.