Saturday, January 8, 2000

Drug dealer indicted in
slayings of three men

By Debra Barayuga


A North Shore drug dealer has been indicted on charges of murdering three men.

Styran Rivera, 35, who is awaiting sentencing on federal drug charges, on Thursday was indicted by an Oahu grand jury on three counts of second-degree murder, one count of first-degree murder and first-degree hindering prosecution.

The most serious offense, first-degree murder, arose from having more than one murder victim and carries a penalty of life without the possibility of parole.

Rivera is charged with murdering Steve Tozon, Tranquilino Bati Jr. and Paris France, three men whose bodies have not been found.

Police had long suspected Rivera's involvement in the killings after a witness told police he was there when Bati and Tozon were gunned down outside Rivera's Waialua home in June 1997.

The bodies allegedly were buried, but a month later, exhumed and dumped at sea outside Haleiwa with cement tiles attached as weights, according to court affidavits. The records also indicate the murders were ordered by Rivera, a former prison guard.

Benjamin Tandal, 20, and Edward Vidal Jr., 33, both of Waialua, were indicted in August in connection with Tozon and Bati's deaths. Court affidavits say Tandal shot Tozon and Bati outside Rivera's home.

Tandal and Bati are both being held on $1 million bail, cash only.

Another Waialua man, Gregory Peregil, also faces charges of second-degree murder in the disappearance and death of John Wailehua-Hansen, whose car was found abandoned in Pearl City early last year.

Hansen has been missing since March 1997 when he left to do repair work at Rivera's Waialua home. Peregil also is being held on $1 million bail.

Rivera's attorney Peter Roberts has said his client will plead not guilty at his arraignment Monday in Circuit Court. Rivera also is expected to plead not guilty to a second-degree assault charge in an unrelated case.

Roberts said he is confident further indictments are pending in connection with France's disappearance.

Rivera faces a minimum 47 months in federal prison on the federal drug charge when sentenced March 30. He pleaded guilty to selling more than 5 grams of methamphetamine in June and more than 50 grams in July to undercover officers.

Rivera would have faced a mandatory minimum of 10 years but a "safety valve" allowed the court to disregard it and use base federal sentencing guidelines, Roberts said. The safety valve requires the courts to apply it to defendants in these cases provided they are not drug kingpins, no firearm is involved, they have no significant criminal history and agree to give a truthful statement about the charges.

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