Raid tips net former HPD officer prison time
Former HPD officer gets 18 months in prison for tips to cockfighters about impending raids
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A federal judge yesterday sentenced a former Honolulu police officer to 18 months in federal prison for tipping off North Shore gambling and cockfighting operators of impending police raids.
Bryson Apo, 31, was one of three officers indicted in April 2006 along with several others on charges of conspiring to obstruct state laws prohibiting gambling. He is the first of the officers to be sentenced. A second officer, Glenn Miram, also has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing. The third officer, Kevin Brunn, a 21-year police veteran, is awaiting trial.
The indictment was the result of a federal investigation into illegal gambling and cockfighting on the North Shore.
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He was described as dedicated, talented and one of the youngest police officers to have been assigned to the Honolulu Police Department's plainclothes crime-reduction units.
But yesterday, a federal judge sentenced former Honolulu police officer Bryson Apo to 18 months in federal prison for warning operators of cockfights on the North Shore of impending raids.
"He's a police officer who's supposed to enforce the law, not break it," said U.S. District Judge Susan Mollway.
Apo, 31, pleaded guilty in February to conspiring with others, including members of a large landowning family in Waialua and two other Honolulu police officers, to obstruct the enforcement of state laws prohibiting illegal gambling.
He is the first of the three officers to be sentenced for their role in the conspiracy, which covered a period from late 2004 to early 2005.
The defense asked for probation, saying the only reason Apo should be sent to prison would be deter other police officers from engaging in similar conduct.
The government opposed probation and asked for a term on the lower end of federal guidelines, which recommend 21 to 27 months.
In rejecting probation and imposing a sentence under the guidelines, Mollway said incarceration was necessary to reflect the seriousness of the crime, promote respect for the law and provide deterrence.
Apo's conduct contributed to the public's loss of confidence in government and law enforcement, she said.
"All the good works of this police officer that benefited the community were canceled out by the criminal activities, that, by his own admission, went on for a period of years," Mollway said.
Apo, who was on the Windward Crime Reduction Unit, pleaded guilty under a plea agreement to providing law enforcement information on a regular basis to friends conducting cockfights in Waialua during a half-year period.
He also admitted to betting from time to time on the outcome of the cockfighting matches. The cockfights took place mainly on private property across from Waialua Elementary School that was owned by the family of a co-defendant.
Apo's admissions were backed by intercepted conversations between Apo and operators of the cockfights, including Charles Gilman and John Saguibo, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Florence Nakakuni.
Mollway expressed concern over what she called "confusing and ambiguous practices" that police engaged in apparently out of necessity to control gambling and cockfighting.
Police sources have told the defense that because they don't have the manpower to eliminate cockfighting entirely because it is such a widespread problem, an agreement is in place to allow the operations to continue and for the operators to police themselves as long as drugs and weapons are not involved, said 1st Assistant Federal Defender Alexander Silvert.
Police Chief Boisse Correa said in a statement: "We are disappointed that an officer has violated the very laws that he swore to uphold. ... Investigations like these are important because they weed out officers who do not deserve wear the HPD uniform."
Apo, who was with the department for eight years, wrote about losing the job he loved and had worked so hard to get. "I was a very good police officer. ... I hurt and lost the respect of the people I looked up to," Silvert quoted from Apo's letter.
Apo can never be a police officer again, nor work as a security guard.