Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Ex-HPD worker to repay
$319 in prison food dispute

John Spondike is also to perform
100 hours of community service

By Debra Barayuga

A former contract hire in the Honolulu Police Department's Central Receiving Division was sentenced to a five-year term similar to probation for a second-degree theft charge stemming from preparing meals for commanders and other officers, using supplies from the cellblock kitchen.

Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto granted John Spondike's request yesterday for a deferral of his no-contest plea for taking more than $300 worth of food. Spondike was also ordered to pay restitution of $319 and perform 100 hours of community service.

Spondike, 54, apologized to the court yesterday for his conduct and assured the court that it would never happen again.

Spondike is the first of four people -- including two high-ranking police officials -- charged in the cellblock food scam to be sentenced. Prosecutors say he has cooperated fully in the investigation and was prepared to testify about the activities in the Central Receiving Division.

"As much as it caused a black eye to the Honolulu Police Department, it took out the rotten apples that may have tainted the HPD," Deputy Prosecutor Randal Lee said.

"With Mr. Spondike's help, it made HPD a better place."

Former Maj. Jeffrey Owens pleaded no contest to second-degree theft for his role in the case.

Defense attorney Sam King Jr. said Spondike had a great career with the HPD, but returned to work for his former employer "in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Spondike, a 26-year Honolulu police veteran who retired as a detective in 1994, was rehired as a contract worker between 1995 and 1998 to help process prisoners.

Former Assistant Chief Rafael Fajardo, who was major of Central Receiving Division at the time, pulled Spondike off the receiving desk because he knew the former detective could cook and assigned him and another food service worker to use food purchased for prisoners to prepare meals for others, Lee told the judge yesterday.

Spondike confirmed how Fajardo instructed the cooks to prepare food for officers and himself using Central Receiving Division supplies.

Spondike regularly prepared toast and coffee for Fajardo and was also instructed to prepare Portuguese sausage, eggs and rice breakfasts for Fajardo's grandchild on several visits, Lee said.

Spondike said the food came from Central Receiving Division supplies that Fajardo allegedly asked food service worker, Ernest Villanueva, to order, Lee said. Spondike noted that Fajardo did not give him food to prepare or money to buy the food, Lee said.

The $319 Spondike has been asked to repay is for rack of lamb that he ordered, but without Fajardo's authorization, Lee said. Spondike prepared the lamb and he and others in Central Receiving ate it. Spondike also took some home, Lee said.

In an interview after the hearing, Howard Luke, Fajardo's attorney, said he will clarify the participation of Fajardo and everyone else involved next week when Fajardo asks the court for a deferral of his no-contest plea to theft.

Luke said that if anyone made the Central Receiving Division a better place, "it was (Assistant Chief) Fajardo."

Luke said he will inform the court about the substantial contributions Fajardo has made to the community in his 37 years as a police officer and assistant chief, Luke said.


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