KAILUA-KONA — Former police officers indicted on charges ranging from drug offenses to conspiracy and tampering are scheduled to make their first appearances today in Hilo Circuit Court.
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 on the indictment: Lance Yamada, Stacey Yamada, David Colon and Ivar Kaluhikaua.
A warrant was ordered for Fukui’s arrest as well as the civilians on Tuesday. Fukui turned himself in Wednesday morning and posted $2,000 bail. Kaluhikaua turned himself in Wednesday afternoon and posted bail.
Former Hawaii Police Detective Brian Miller, 55, was also 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 on Wednesday, and posted his $10,000 bail. His court appearance is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
“When something like this happens I feel like a deflated balloon,” Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim said 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 after a Kona grand jury convened Monday. More than 20 witnesses were called, including current and former Hawaii Police Department officers as well as civilians.
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 added. “And it should not detract from the outstanding work that they do every day.”
On Wednesday, 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,” Kim said. “But it’s a true disappointment that it’s happened. It hurts all of us who work to establish trust.”
While Ferreira did call Kim Monday night about the coming indictments, he said, he didn’t have any communication with the police chief or prosecutor’s office on what was coming.
“This is hurtful, to be quite frank,” Kim said. “The most important thing is that people trust what we do.”
Hawaii Police initially forwarded their drug investigation into one of their own sworn personnel, later identified as Miller, to the Hawaii County Prosecutor’s Office on March 2, 2018, after cocaine was found missing from the Hilo evidence storage facility.
The 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.
After reviewing the criminal investigation, 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. Months later, 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 was also resolved.
Whether convicted or acquitted, both of officers will keep their full pensions, according to police.
Miller retired as a detective with 26 years of service on Feb. 2, 2018, before the department could complete its internal investigation.
Ferreira said once an individual leaves the department, any disciplinary actions that are a result of an administrative investigation is 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 actions alleged in the indictment were done after he left the department and was no longer subject to the policies.
Fukui retired as a captain with 34 years of service on June 30, 2006. 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 stay with the prosecutor’s office, Roth said Fukui worked in the elder abuse unit but wasn’t a primary investigator.
“We take these matters very seriously,” Roth added.
According to the indictment, Miller is accused of wrongdoings during three separate timeframes. Between July 13, 2014, through July 20, 2015, he’s accused of removing FedEx parcels and hindered law enforcement while acting under the color of law enforcement officer’s official authority.
During a time period between May 3 to May 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 on an imminent search warrant related to gambling operations as well as to remove or destroy gambling devices.
This August incident is in connection to Fukui’s indictment. The former officer and four civilians are all accused of tampering with evidence and intentionally trying to destroy or remove gambling devices. Kaluhikaua, 43, who turned himself in, has since posted a $2,000 bail and is scheduled for a court appearance at 1:30 p.m. as well.
On Aug. 10, 2017, police conducted a raid on Hilo arcade establishment Triple 7, owned by Stacey and Lance Yamada. The Yamada brothers were charged in a separate gambling-related case in March.