KAILUA TEACHER CHARGED AFTER DRUG BUST
Federal officials also arrest a Wahiawa man
A 38-year-old woman who teaches at an elementary school in Kailua and a 28-year-old Wahiawa man were charged yesterday with conspiracy and drug charges stemming from a shipment of 990 tablets of the drug Ecstasy and 2.2 pounds of cocaine.
The cocaine has a street value of $100,000, and the Ecstasy is worth up to $20,790, federal officials said.
Bronwyn Marie Kugle, a resource teacher who teaches math and reading to small groups of second- to sixth-graders at Kaelepulu Elementary School, was arrested Tuesday at her Kailua home after accepting a UPS package from an undercover officer and opening what she thought contained the drugs, law enforcement officials said. Jesse Lee Badillo was arrested Tuesday at his apartment.
Principal Sue Stock said Kugle was in school Tuesday. Kugle has been placed on unpaid leave, said Department of Education spokesman Greg Knudsen.
Federal officials said there is no indication that the drugs were intended for the students.
Kugle bankrolled the shipment and had "loaned" Badillo $63,500 -- $36,000 of which had been paid back, federal agents said.
Kugle, a divorced mother whose children were not at home at the time of the arrest, admitted to the charges, said Ed Kubo, U.S. attorney for the District of Hawaii.
Despite this being the second drug-dealing case involving a teacher within three months, Kubo said, "this is not a reflection of the overwhelming number of educators in our state who work so hard to ensure our children are educated."
Kugle admitted she knew the parcel contained cocaine and Ecstasy, Kubo said. She also "admitted to being a multigram user of cocaine and having a chronic problem of 'ice' use," he said.
Kugle identified Badillo as the person who mailed her the package, and he was supposed to pick up the parcel from her, according to a Drug Enforcement Administration agent's affidavit.
The parcel was mailed Feb. 9 from a Fullerton, Calif., UPS store to Kugle's Ulumawao Street address. It contained a gift-wrapped package and a Valentine's Day greeting card attached, according to the affidavit.
The package contained a new toaster oven in which the drugs were hidden. It was the third of three shipments, but the other shipments have not yet been recovered, Kubo said.
The drugs were replaced with substitutes and a beeper.
The parcel was delivered at 11:50 a.m. Tuesday. Once Kugle opened the box and the beeper sounded, law enforcement officers entered the house and arrested Kugle at about 12:30 p.m.
Federal task force investigators also recovered from Kugle's house a glass smoking pipe with methamphetamine residue and a loaded snub-nose .38 caliber revolver.
Also during a search on Tuesday, officers found 70 to 80 suspected Ecstasy tablets on Badillo, 200 suspected Ecstasy tablets in his Mercedes, small amounts of cocaine and marijuana, and a box of ammunition in his apartment.
Kugle and Badillo appeared yesterday for their initial appearance in federal court.
Badillo sported a mohawk, mustache, goatee and multiple tattoos. Kugle, her waist-long hair worn loose, looked at her family, including her mother, with tears in her eyes.
They were both held without bail until a detention hearing Tuesday.
They face a maximum of 40 years in prison for possession with intent to distribute cocaine, and up to 20 years for possession with intent to distribute Ecstasy.
Badillo has 12 state convictions including drunken driving, fourth-degree theft, and probation and restraining-order violations.
Kugle taught at Kaelepulu for five years and at Waiahole Elementary School for about a year, Knudsen said.
"The DOE is shocked that there would be another incident of a teacher" facing drug charges, he said.
The department does not support universal or random drug testing of teachers and other DOE employees, Knudsen said. However, the DOE is in negotiations with the Hawaii State Teachers Association and working out the details of allowing testing for drugs with cause.
Kugle is the second teacher to be facing drug-trafficking charges. Lee Anzai, a Leilehua High School teacher, pleaded guilty in December to dealing 15 ounces of ice to an undercover officer and is awaiting sentencing in June.