Suspect ordered held in connection with jewel theft, drug case
A federal magistrate judge has ordered Bryan T. Higa detained until trial on charges he robbed a jewelry salesman at gunpoint of about $2 million in jewelry in the parking lot of a Waipahu restaurant.
Higa, 25, of Aiea, is in federal custody in connection with the robbery as well as a separate drug case.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren ruled yesterday that Higa presents a "very serious situation demonstrating issues of danger" based on the nature of the case, his history of drug abuse and criminal activities. Kurren also noted that Higa was on probation in a state criminal matter when he allegedly committed the robbery.
According to federal court affidavits, an acquaintance of Higa, Marvin Quemado, called him on June 1 and told him about the owners of a local jewelry store showing a jewelry collection at his mother's home in Waipahu.
The jewelers left and drove to the Golden Coin Restaurant in Waipahu to wait for an associate when Higa apparently drove up and pointed a semiautomatic handgun at the jeweler as he removed a suitcase containing jewelry from the trunk of his car, the affidavit said.
Higa allegedly fired one shot at the jeweler but missed. He also threatened to kill the jeweler and allegedly fired a second round, but the handgun apparently malfunctioned. Higa fled with the suitcase and police were immediately notified, according to court documents.
He was captured a short time later hiding in the kitchen of Leeward Bowling Alley.
Higa admitted robbing the jeweler but contends he fired into the air, not at the jeweler, according to court documents. He also admitted he and Quemado agreed to rob the jewelers and that Quemado follow them and provide him with their location.
Higa said he later met up with Quemado and dropped off the jewelry case at his West Loch apartment, according to court documents. He and Quemado were driving around Waipahu when police spotted them and gave chase.
Higa agreed to surrender the jewelry to police but, after making some calls, was unable to locate the case he had left at his apartment, court documents said. His sister later reported that someone had broken into his apartment and made off with the case.
An unidentified informant later surrendered a large amount of jewelry to police and told them Quemado had buried the rest of the jewelry at an undisclosed location in remote Mokuleia, court affidavits say.
The informant told police he removed buried jewelry and that Quemado had more at his mother's Waipahu home. The jewelers identified the jewelry recovered from the informant as representing 20 percent of the inventory that was taken.
According to arrest records, Higa has been arrested 42 times and has three felony convictions. He is awaiting trial in state court for an April home burglary in Mililani and another in Nuuanu in September 2004.
Both Higa and Quemado face federal charges of interfering with interstate commerce by robbery. Earlier this week, Kurren had also ordered Quemado held without bail pending trial.