3 Kauai officers plead not guilty to charges
LIHUE » Three Kauai police officers accused of misappropriating taxpayer money pleaded not guilty in Circuit Court yesterday to felony theft and document-tampering charges.
Former vice Lt. Wesley Perreira, Sgt. Lawrence Stem and officer Channing Tada were also ordered to surrender their firearms to the Police Department.
They were assigned a Nov. 13 trial date. The three remain on indefinite administrative leave with pay.
The officers were charged earlier this week with two felony theft charges each, relating to a trip to Maui last year for a marijuana eradication seminar. They were also charged with tampering with a government document, a misdemeanor.
The indictment charges the officers with failing to show up for the seminar, despite flying to Maui and renting a car and hotel room.
The three maintain they were sick with food poisoning, and filled out paperwork to that effect.
Their lawyer, Michael Green, said this will be a tough case, strictly on today's perception of police officers.
"In defending policemen today, the public's perception is negative" with high-profile cases like O.J. Simpson and Rodney King, Green said outside court. "It makes it very difficult."
Christopher Young, deputy attorney general handling the case because of possible conflicts for the Kauai Prosecutor's Office, said yesterday that he hopes the case moves quickly, but would not comment on specifics of the case.