Police officer gets 65-month prison term in 'ice' case
A plea agreement and cooperation with investigators result in the lesser sentence
A Honolulu police officer who pleaded guilty to selling $5,400 worth of crystal methamphetamine to an informant was sentenced yesterday to five years and five months in federal prison.
Robert Henry Sylva, 50, had been charged with three counts of distributing crystal methamphetamine, or "ice," on three occasions in 2004. But under a plea agreement in December, he pleaded guilty to one count, a March 21, 2004, sale of three ounces of ice to the informant at the Sports Authority parking lot on Ward Avenue. Sylva was in uniform at the time of the sale, according to prosecutors.
He was facing an advisory guideline range of 87 to 108 months, but U.S. District Judge David Ezra agreed to sentence Sylva within a lower range of 63 to 78 months at the request of federal prosecutors because Sylva agreed to cooperate with investigators after his arrest.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Kawahara said Sylva, a Honolulu police officer for 22 years, agreed to identify his supplier and participated in a sting that led to the supplier's arrest.
Despite Sylva's cooperation, Kawahara said the fact remained that he was a police officer who was not supposed to engage in criminal conduct. "There was a limit as to how much leniency we could ask for, and the court agreed and he got 65 months," Kawahara said.
"I feel very strongly about the integrity of the law enforcement officers I work with, and that's why it's important that when these things come to light, they get investigated and strongly prosecuted," he said.
Sylva, who also admitted he had been using drugs, apologized to everyone, including family members who were in the courtroom.
In a letter to his fellow officers shortly after his arrest, Sylva claimed that depression from the deaths of his son and both parents within a short time period, his wife leaving and later involvement with a girlfriend who used the drug led to his downfall.
His attorney could not be reached for immediate comment.
In a written statement, Deputy Police Chief Glen Kajiyama said police were saddened for the Sylva family.
"However, this sentence gives a clear message that no one, including law enforcement officers, is above the law. We have and we will continue to work with federal investigators to do whatever it is necessary to maintain the public's trust and confidence in HPD."
The investigation was initiated by HPD based on information from the public and jointly investigated with the FBI.
"Drugs are a serious problem in our community, and we thank everyone who came forward with information," Kajiyama said.
Sylva's supplier, Albert "Bully" Kakuda, received 10 years in federal prison.