3 Kauai officers charged with theft
The men are accused of abusing a business trip to Maui and lying about it to superiors
LIHUE » Three Kauai police officers were indicted by a grand jury yesterday on charges of theft of government funds and tampering with government records.
Sgt. Wesley Perreira, Channing Tada and Lawrence Stem were vice officers during former Police Chief K.C. Lum's tenure, part of a small group responsible for taking record amounts of methamphetamine off Kauai streets.
But now they stand accused of getting a free vacation with tax dollars and then lying about it on government records.
The three men were each charged with two counts of tampering with a government record, a misdemeanor. Tada and Stem are also charged with two counts of felony theft, while Perreira is charged with one count of felony theft and one count of attempted theft.
According to records, the three went to Maui last September to attend a marijuana-eradication seminar. They rented a car and hotel rooms but never attended the classes. They said they were sick, struck with food poisoning, and filled out paperwork to that effect when they returned.
But the state attorney general's office said the three faked the illness after their superiors started asking questions.
They "falsified records to indicate they were ill," according to the indictment, read aloud in court by Deputy Attorney General Christopher Young.
Young would not comment on the case, and Kauai police Lt. Roy Asher, the special investigator appointed to the case, would only say that "it's a sad day when officers get indicted."
The three were expected to turn themselves in, either today or tomorrow, to the police cellblock, where they were assigned for months while Asher did the investigation.
Perreira's lawyer, Michael Green, did not return a call seeking comment.
At least one prosecutor-turned-defense attorney, Michael Soong, has used the case to his client's advantage.
The Maui case first came to light in Soong's defense motions, where he requested the officers' personnel records to impeach their testimony in a methamphetamine case.
The case also ensnared acting police Chief Clayton Arinaga, who filed a lawsuit against the department for violations of the Whistleblower Protection Act when he tried to start an investigation into the three officers' conduct.
Former Chief Lum suspended Arinaga with pay to look into a hindering-prosecution case, but Arinaga's lawsuit said the suspension was retaliation for trying to investigate the men.
The suit, filed in February, is pending. Arinaga said earlier this month that he and his lawyer were going to review the case.