Tuesday, December 16, 2003

‘Ice’ plan brings
prison sentence

A former guard is punished
for his intent to smuggle the
drug into Halawa prison

A former Halawa adult corrections officer was sentenced yesterday to 7 1/2 years in federal prison for possessing crystal methamphetamine that he planned to smuggle into the prison.

Melvin Moisa, 25, pleaded guilty in July to one count of possessing two ounces of "ice" with the intention of smuggling it into prison. He faced between 7 1/4 years and 9 years' imprisonment under federal sentencing guidelines.

U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor said yesterday that Moisa's conduct was one of the more serious crimes she has seen.

"It's one thing to distribute drugs, but to do it in prison is doubly, doubly reprehensible," she said.

She said Moisa's conduct made the prison more dangerous and undermined rehabilitation programs for inmates. More important, it led to loss of public confidence in law enforcement, Gillmor said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Seabright said the court needed to send a message that it takes this kind of crime seriously and that it continues to pressure the prison system to keep drugs out.

It was "astonishing" that someone who was recently employed by the prison would be so willing to pick up drugs from a person whom he knew only as "Bruddah" and agree to bring them into the prison, Seabright said.

Moisa was arrested in April after an unidentified individual delivered two ounces of ice and $2,000 to Moisa in Kailua. He was one of two prison guards and an attorney arrested separately earlier this year in an investigation into drugs in Hawaii's prison system.

Moisa, who had been a prison guard for almost two years, admitted that he had brought drugs into the prison on other occasions, Seabright said.

Federal deputy public defender William Domingo said Moisa had financial problems but never made excuses for his conduct. "But he had choices and he made the wrong choices," Domingo said.

Moisa apologized to the court and his family and assured the court it would never happen again.

After he completes his prison term, Moisa will be placed on five years of supervised release. He is scheduled to begin his term Jan. 27 at a facility designated by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.


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