Kauai officers plead no contest to theft
The three allegedly lied about attending a training seminar
LIHUE » Three Kauai police officers pleaded no contest yesterday to charges of theft and tampering with documents after going to Maui for a training trip in 2005 and lying about attending the seminar.
They have been on paid administrative leave since August 2006 and will likely be terminated in the next month, Kauai police officials said.
They each face more than 20 years in prison when they next appear in court April 30.
Lt. Wesley Perreira, 38; Sgt. Lawrence Stem, 38; and Channing Tada, 35, three former KPD vice narcotics officers, were some of the leaders of the vice squad that led to a record amount of methamphetamine seized in 2004 and 2005.
In September 2005 they were scheduled to attend a federal marijuana eradication seminar in Kihei. The three went to Maui, rented a car and hotel rooms but never attended the seminar, said Deputy Attorney General Christopher Young, who prosecuted the case.
They also filled out time sheets that indicated they had attended the event, and Stem and Tada filled out an in-house survey about the seminar, leading to the multiple misdemeanor charges of tampering with government documents. The three had said they were sick, but instead of filling out the proper paperwork, they lied and said they attended the event, Young added in court yesterday.
Stem and Tada pleaded no contest to two counts of felony theft; they each received $383 in federal grant money to reimburse them for their expenses and were paid more than $400 in salary, Young said.
Perreira pleaded no contest to felony theft and attempted theft. He received his salary and $483 in reimbursement but never cashed the federal checks.
This is a case "where honesty and integrity are the main issue," Young said after court. "They violated the public's trust."
Michael Green, Perreira's lawyer, said the three are "good cops," and he hopes the pleas will help the three and their families get on with their lives.
Green said there were numerous legal defenses they could have brought up on trial, but a conviction in the case would have made it difficult for any of the three to find any kind of employment again.
The three asked Judge Kathleen Watanabe to consider a motion to defer acceptance of their pleas, which could eventually expunge the conviction from their records.
Young said yesterday he would "most definitely oppose" those motions, and expressed disappointment the three pleaded no contest and refused to step forward and be honest about their actions.
Green said the decision to plead became easier after the three received letters last week announcing the beginning of their termination proceedings.
KPD Police Chief Darryl Perry said yesterday the three will be afforded all their collective-bargaining rights as the administrative internal investigation moves forward. That investigation, Perry said, was moving forward "concurrently" with the criminal case.
However, any felony conviction precludes a person from carrying a firearm, making it impossible for them to be police officers, the chief added.