Former teacher gets prison for drugs
A former Kailua elementary school teacher sent the worst kind of message to children by using drugs and dealing in cocaine and Ecstasy, U.S. District Judge Susan Mollway said yesterday.
Mollway sentenced Bronwyn Kugle, 38, who formerly taught at Kaelepulu Elementary, to 37 months in prison.
Kugle had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute two pounds of cocaine, possession with intent to distribute nearly 1,000 Ecstasy pills, and being an illegal drug user in possession of a firearm.
Defense attorney Howard Luke described Kugle as an accomplished individual derailed by drugs. She completed school up to the 11th grade before obtaining her GED and went on to attain her bachelor's and master's degrees. Instead of looking for a high-paying job, she gravitated to teaching.
"She really wanted to help younger, disadvantaged children with special needs," Luke said.
Had it not been for her long-standing drug addiction and mental illness, this would not have happened, he added. Kugle suffers from a bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness.
Kugle apologized to about two dozen of her family members and friends who attended yesterday's sentencing, the school community and everyone who suffered because of her conduct.
"I can't change the decisions that I've made that brought me to this point in my life, but I accept responsibility and the punishment," she said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Kawahara asked the court to give Kugle credit for her cooperation. But because of the seriousness of her conduct, he said he could not recommend less than four years' imprisonment.
The government alleged that Kugle used more than $60,000 from the refinancing of her Kailua home to front co-defendant Jesse Badillo for the purchase of the drugs and she did so out of "greed."
"This was cold and calculating" Kawahara said. "She wanted to make a quick kill."
The 1,000 Ecstasy pills was a third shipment, indicating the activity had occurred during a period of time.
Ecstasy is a "rave" drug and those who tend to use it are teenagers and young college students, he said.
"Of anybody who should know better and what the impact of illegal drug use has, would be someone like Mrs. Kugle," he said. "She was brazen or depraved enough to want to prey upon these young children that she's supposed to be teaching."
Kugle submitted her resignation to the Department of Education five days after her arrest.
The judge shared the government's concern that Kugle kept a loaded firearm with an obliterated serial number unsecured in the home she shared with her two children, purportedly for protection.
Mollway said she was awed by what Kugle has been able to achieved despite her challenges -- raising her two children, getting her master's degree and a job. "It gives me much hope that with treatment, you can go further," Mollway said.
After Kugle serves her term of imprisonment, she will be placed on four years of supervised release. She must also forfeit the interest in her Kailua home.
Kugle has spent her pretrial detention helping others at the federal detention center by teaching GED and aerobics classes, her father, Roger Tansley, said afterward.
"I'm sure she will teach other people once she gets out from prison -- her experience won't be wasted," Tansley said.