Former Maui Police Officer Sentenced for Unlawfully Seizing Money
Former Maui Police Department Officer Anthony Maldonado, 29, of Kahului, Maui, was sentenced on Tuesday by Senior United States District Judge Helen Gillmor of the District of Hawaiʻi to 24 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and required to pay $1,917.70 in restitution.
The information was compiled and released by the Justice Department and the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Hawaiʻi.
On April 19, Maldonado pleaded guilty to one count of violating the civil rights of a civilian by stealing money from him, and one count of conspiring to obstruct the federal investigation of that theft.
According to court documents, on Sept. 30, 2015, former Officer Maldonado conducted a traffic stop and allegedly stole approximately $1,800 during that stop. Officer Maldonado then allegedly conspired with several other MPD officers and civilians to “intimidate the individual and bribe him to withdraw his theft complaint.”
Specifically, Justice Department officials say “Maldonado tasked his former brother-in-law, Damien Kaina, with executing the bribery plan.” Authorities say the victim initially refused to take money from Kaina, but Kaina insisted. The victim then eventually accepted some money “because he was frightened that Kaina or others might retaliate against him and his family if he continued to refuse,” according to the Justice Department. According to court records, Walter Ahuna, a former MPD sergeant, reportedly “served as Kaina’s getaway driver.”
Kaina and Ahuna both previously pleaded guilty to participating in the obstruction plot. The man from the traffic stop immediately reported the attempted bribe to Maui police and, the next morning, delivered the bribe money to MPD detectives.
The day after the bribe, when it became clear that the victim was not going to withdraw the theft complaint, Justice officials say “Maldonado, Kaina, and another MPD officer, Chase Keliipaakaua,” called the victim “in an effort to pressure him to withdraw the complaint.” Keliipaakaua also pleaded guilty to his role in the crime.
“Defendant Maldonado stole money from a civilian and conspired with others, including other law enforcement officers, to intimidate and bribe his victim, defying the law he swore to protect,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore. “The Civil Rights Division will hold law enforcement officers who abuse their positions of power accountable under the law.”
“Police officers are sworn to protect and serve; whenever that oath is broken, it is a blow to our community as a whole. That is why our office is committed to vigorously investigating and prosecuting all instances of police misconduct,” said US Attorney for the District of Hawaiʻi Kenji M. Price.
“The men and women of the Honolulu FBI would like to thank the Maui Police Department for their diligence and thoroughness in identifying several of their own officers and assisting in this civil rights investigation. It is a sad day when an officer abuses their authority and violates the trust of the public they have been sworn to serve. However, this is a consummate example that these crimes will not be ignored and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Sean L. Kaul.
The FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Marc Wallenstein of the District of Hawaiʻi and Trial Attorney Mary J. Hahn of the Civil Rights Division prosecuted the case.