Thursday, April 17, 2003

Kauai police chief says
he welcomes FBI probe

By Anthony Sommer

LIHUE >> Kauai Police Chief George Freitas has denied allegations that he ignored complaints that a Kauai police lieutenant was involved in an organized crime ring and assaulted a KPD sergeant who filed a complaint about him.

Freitas said all of the specific allegations made by Sgt. Mark Begley in the lawsuit he filed April 8 against Freitas, Kauai County, the lieutenant and a civilian were fully investigated. The material was turned over to the County Prosecutor's Office in August, he said.

Freitas said he welcomes Mayor Bryan Baptiste's request that the FBI investigate the allegations. A formal request for an FBI investigation was sent yesterday by Baptiste's office.

In a memo to all department employees issued Monday, Freitas said he will cooperate fully with an FBI investigation. "I confidently expect that all of you will be equally cooperative."

Begley's lawyer said yesterday, "We will show intent by the chief to limit and subvert the investigation."

Attorney Chris Bouslog said the investigations conducted by the department on its own officers ignored the involvement of some individuals, minimized the involvement of others and implicated some people who had little or no responsibility for what occurred.

Meanwhile, County Prosecutor Michael Soong did not return Star-Bulletin phone calls over two days seeking information.

His office has had some of the police criminal investigation reports for eight months but has not gone to the Kauai grand jury with any of them.

Begley's lawsuit alleges that on May 14 he was hit from behind either by the lieutenant or someone with the lieutenant. The assault occurred, Begley said, after he filed complaints against the lieutenant and other officers.

He claimed they were stealing drugs by confiscating narcotics from dealers and users, but not charging the individuals or turning in the drugs as evidence.

After Begley was struck on the head, the lieutenant then allegedly drove Begley home and told Begley's wife her husband had too much to drink.

When Begley went to a hospital on Kauai, he was immediately flown to Oahu for treatment of a brain injury. Begley was off work for four months and has since been assigned to light duty because of the injury.

The lawsuit also alleges another officer twice took drugs seized by Kapaa High School administrators from students without filing any charges and that a woman informant repeatedly made drug buys for KPD, turned the narcotics over to the lieutenant and no charges ever were filed against the drug dealers.

The informant allegedly was raped by a relative of the lieutenant and told it was a warning to keep her mouth shut.

Begley's lawsuit charges there is a criminal organization on Kauai that includes members of the police department. It does not name any of the members of the organization, however.

"We have investigated every one of those charges and turned the results over to the prosecutors," Freitas said. "But as far as the broader allegations of a criminal organization, there is nothing specific in the lawsuit to investigate.

"I've been doing this a long time and every police department faces the possibility of a rogue cop," Freitas said.

But he added there is nothing to indicate that an organized crime ring is operating within the Kauai Police Department.


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