Thursday, August 30, 2001

Assistant police
chief pleads
not guilty

Rafael Fajardo Jr. is charged
with theft of public funds
to feed police officers

By Debra Barayuga

Assistant Honolulu Police Chief Rafael Fajardo Jr. today denied charges he misappropriated funds intended for prisoner meals to purchase food to feed police officers, including higher-ups.

Fajardo, 59, one of two police officials indicted a week ago on a charge of second-degree theft in the ongoing investigation, is the highest ranking official in the department to face criminal charges.

"(Assistant) Chief Fajardo categorically denies the allegations he stole any money from the taxpayers, from the Honolulu Police Department or from anyone else in this matter," said Howard Luke, attorney for Fajardo.

Fajardo appeared in Circuit Court today accompanied by family and supporters and pleaded not guilty to the charge.

"I expect we will provide Mr. Fajardo with a vigorous defense in this case and am very hopeful and confident of an acquittal in this case," Luke added.

Among the allegations against Fajardo include the purchases of rack of lamb, prime rib and breakfast items to feed police officers in the Central Receiving Division while he was in command during 1995 to 2000.

Prisoners who are detained in the cellblocks are usually fed packaged food or meals prepared in advance that only require heating.

Luke said Fajardo has paid with his own money for food that was served to police officers in the receiving area and invited the police chiefs and others to participate. But the practice was solely to allow higher ranking police officials to meet with the rank and file, he said.

Fajardo had a business relationship with one of the individuals targeted in the investigation; it had nothing to do with food, Luke said. He said Fajardo has no financial interest in any company that supplied or donated food to the Honolulu Police Department.

Maj. Jeffrey Owens, who served as captain under Fajardo in the Central Receiving Division and later took over when Fajardo was promoted, pleaded not guilty to the same charge on Monday.

Others are expected to plead guilty and are cooperating in the investigation.

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