3 inmates indicted as drug case expands
Marijuana and "ice" allegedly were brought into the federal prison
Three Hawaii inmates smuggled marijuana and crystal methamphetamine into the federal detention center with the help of a guard and family members, including two mothers, a wife and a brother, a federal grand jury alleges.
In a superseding indictment filed yesterday, inmates Keoki Astronomo, Keoni Hylton and Robert Kupahu, along with Astronomo's mother, Marlene, and Kupahu's brother, John, are charged with one count each of conspiracy to possess and distribute crystal meth and marijuana and conspiracy to provide an inmate with a prohibited object.
The two counts carry a maximum sentence of 45 years in prison.
Robert Kupahu, Keoki Astronomo, Hylton and a fourth inmate, Edward Michael Ramos, have also been charged with possession of a prohibited object in prison. Kupahu and Astronomo allegedly had "controlled substances" and drug paraphernalia, while prosecutors alleged Hylton and Ramos were found with marijuana.
A guard at the federal detention center, Akoni Sandoval Kapihe, was charged Dec. 14 for his alleged part in the scheme. He is free on $50,000 bond.
"The United States Attorney's Office took this case very seriously," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Clare Connors, who is prosecuting the case. "It started when we found out about the marijuana on the first two inmates. Then, we found out about the way in which these ... (drugs) were brought into the prison."
Connors declined to comment on the investigation. The original indictment, filed in November, charged only Hylton and Ramos with possession.
According to the superseding indictment, Kupahu asked his wife, identified as "G.K.," in August or September to buy five grams of crystal meth from his brother, John.
G.K. allegedly got the money to buy the crystal meth from Marlene Astronomo and inmate Keoni Hylton's mother, identified as "M.H." in the indictment.
Meanwhile, Kupahu also told his wife to expect a package of marijuana in the mail from Marlene Astronomo, court documents say. Astronomo allegedly mailed the drugs around Aug. 15 at her son's request.
After buying the crystal meth and receiving the marijuana, G.K. allegedly put the drugs in protein supplement containers, which she gave to Kapihe.
Connors declined to say why some family members were not charged in the case.
The guard then brought the drugs into the federal detention center and left them in an office for Kupahu to pick up, court documents say. A federal affidavit filed earlier this month said Kapihe was paid between $150 and $200 for bringing the drugs into the prison.
The affidavit also said there were at least three deliveries of drugs. It said a fourth was planned but foiled when Hylton and Ramos were allegedly found in October with hand-rolled cigarettes that were found to contain marijuana.
The indictment says Kupahu sold crystal meth to fellow inmates, while he, Keoki Astronomo and Hylton sold marijuana.
Public defenders for the accused could not be reached for comment yesterday. Kupahu's wife and Hylton's mother were not charged in the indictment.
Kupahu, apparently the scheme's ringleader, is in federal prison for his part in a crystal methamphetamine ring.
In an unrelated case, Kupahu was convicted last year in state Circuit Court, along with his father and cousin, of first-degree assault after punching and kicking a man at Waimanalo Beach Park. The man had tried to stop his father from killing a dog.
Friday, December 23, 2005
» Robert Kupahu is among three inmates charged with smuggling marijuana and crystal methamphetamine into the federal detention center. A photo of Guy Meyers was incorrectly labeled as Kupahu on Page A6 in yesterday's morning edition. Meyers is not charged in the case.