Friday, January 4, 2002

Kauai police chief’s
return to work OK’d

By Anthony Sommer

LIHUE >> In a surprise move, the Kauai county attorney's office told Police Chief George Freitas that he may return to work on Monday even though the Kauai Police Commission has not acted on three complaints filed against him.

Freitas was suspended with pay by the commission on Aug. 10, following complaints against him filed by two senior officers, Inspector Melvin Morris and Lt. Alvin Seto.

In a letter to Freitas dated yesterday, Deputy County Attorney Laurel Loo advised him that "while the investigation is concluded, please note that there are three remaining charges arising out of the investigation that are pending Commission action."

Loo gave no reason for the reinstatement.

The police commission today refused to vote on a request from Freitas that he be allowed to return to work, and the panel has not met since Freitas sued the county yesterday in U.S. District Court, alleging his rights to due process have been violated.

Also today the Police Commission trimmed the list of five allegations against him to three.

Freitas remains accused of violating a Kauai Police policy by committing a criminal act while working as a police officer. Kauai County Prosecutor Michael Soong has refused to pursue the matter, saying no crime took place.

The complaint against Freitas said his alleged crime was "hindering prosecution" by refusing to allow detectives to re-interview the wife of police officer Nelson Gabriel in a sexual molestation case. A trial was held in September, but Circuit Judge George Masuoka, who heard the case without a jury, has not yet issued a verdict.

Freitas has denied he blocked Gabriel's prosecution. He said Gabriel's wife retained an attorney and the lawyer refused to allow police officers to question her again.

He also said the questions that Seto, the investigating officer, wanted to ask the woman involved the revealing of confidential information in a separate criminal case.

Freitas also remains charged with using his unmarked police car to go shopping with his girlfriend for a house. He has denied house-hunting in the car but doesn't deny she has been a passenger.

He is also accused of failing to treat a subordinate with respect. Morris accused Freitas of "ranting and raving" at him during a meeting in the chief's office. Freitas has denied the allegation.

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