Former teacher admits drug activity
Bronwyn Kugle says her habit evolved into a profit opportunity
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A former Kaelepulu Elementary School teacher said yesterday in federal court that she was embarrassed to admit she used and dealt drugs.
Bronwyn Marie Kugle faces a mandatory minimum prison term of five years and a maximum term of 40 years for charges that include the intent to distribute almost 990 Ecstasy pills and more than 2 pounds of cocaine.
She also faces forfeiture of her Ulumawao Street home, where a parcel containing Ecstasy and cocaine was delivered to her Feb. 14. Law enforcement agents also seized a loaded, snub-nose .38-caliber revolver from her bedroom drawer.
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A former Kailua school- teacher wept yesterday as she admitted to a federal judge that she was a cocaine and Ecstasy dealer.
"I was using illegal drugs, which is embarrassing because I am a teacher," Bronwyn Marie Kugle told U.S. District Judge Susan Mollway after pleading guilty to drug and firearms charges. "I'm really sorry."
Kugle, a former resource teacher at Kaelepulu Elementary School, faces a mandatory minimum prison term of five years and a maximum term of 40 years for charges that include intent to distribute cocaine and MDMA, also known as Ecstasy, and possession of a loaded firearm.
Mollway expressed concerned about the snub-nose, .38-caliber revolver, loaded with five rounds of ammunition, that law enforcement officers seized from her bedroom dresser.
"That was a mistake," Mollway said. "You knew you had those things."
Federal officials said Kugle paid Jesse Badillo -- described as a friend of her boyfriend's -- more than $60,000 to purchase drugs on the mainland and mail them to her so she could sell them in Hawaii.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Kawahara said she received the money from refinancing her home at 507 Ulumawao St., which she could lose as part of her punishment.
"She was using this as an investment opportunity and she was essentially the financier in this conspiracy, fronting the money to (Badillo) with a purchase of drugs," Kawahara said outside the courtroom.
Kawahara also said she received at least three cocaine parcels at her home by mail and stored 100 Ecstasy pills in a safe for the purpose of distribution.
Kugle, who has two sons and a daughter, was charged on Feb. 14 with conspiracy and drugs dealing in connection with a parcel mailed to her a day earlier containing 989 Ecstasy pills and 2.1 pounds of cocaine.
Five days later, she submitted her resignation to the Department of Education. Following an investigation, Kugle's resignation was accepted in a letter dated May 11 by Kailua-Kalaheo complex area Superintendent Arlyne Yonemoto, said spokesman Greg Knudsen.
Kugle said what started out as something to support her drug habit of methamphetamine and cocaine evolved into something she thought she could also profit from.
She told Mollway that refinancing loans were used to buy out her home from her ex-husband after they underwent a divorce and to build a cottage on her property. Kugle admitted that some of the money was used to buy drugs.
She said it was "a blessing in disguise" when law enforcement raided her home, saying she has been drug-free for 121 days.
Outside the courtroom, Kugle's attorney, Howard Luke, said she had battled an addiction to crystal methamphetamine or "ice" for a number of years and substance abuse since she was a teenager.
"This isn't a woman who is going out looking for money from selling drugs to become enormously wealthy," Luke said.
She has dedicated her life as a teacher, earning advanced degrees in her profession to help children learn, he added. "By all accounts, she was a very good teacher."
Luke said she pleaded guilty because she accepted responsibility for what she was involved in. Still, he said that Kugle was exploited by many people, both financially and emotionally.
"There were people taking money from her. I think they took advantage of her addiction," Luke said. "I would hope that she would have as low a sentence as possible and I am very hopeful that the sentence will be below the mandatory minimum by statute."
Kugle is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 1.