Thursday, September 6, 2001

Retired HPD
major details 2-week
delay in food case

He doesn't know why it took
so long to assign the case of
alleged police theft

By Rod Antone

A retired Honolulu police major says there were delays regarding an internal affairs investigation last year into alleged misuse of cellblock food money.

Retired Maj. Gordon Young told the Honolulu Police Commission yesterday it took two weeks for the department to assign an investigator to a case that involved high-ranking police officials and food purchases at the main police cellblock.

"I just knew that the food that was purchased was not necessarily going to the prisoners," said Young yesterday. "I knew that it possibly involved some high-ranking officers."

When asked how long it should have taken to hand out the assignment, Young said, "A day."

Young's complaint last October eventually lead to theft charges against Assistant Chief Raphael Fajardo and Maj. Jeffrey Owens last month. Both are charged with theft for allegedly diverting funds to feed rack of lamb and prime rib to police officers, including top officials.

While the case will be tried in state court, Young wants the Police Commission to find out why there was a delay in the internal investigation.

And he points out that the department assigned the case on the same day that the story was to be reported by KITV-4 News -- "about two to three hours before Jim Dooley was going to report the case on the 6 o'clock news," said Young.

When asked if he thought the case would not have been assigned had there not been media attention, Young replied, "You know, I'll never know the answer to that. I'll never know the answer to that question."

After the meeting yesterday, police commissioners said they expected to have answers to Young's question within a few days. Among the powers of the seven-member Police Commission is the authority to investigate the conduct of any member of the department.

"I'll be speaking to the chief and to find out some information to clarify some issues," said Leonard K.P. Leong, Honolulu Police Commission chairman. "We need to find out what transpired in those two weeks ... being that it was a sensitive case and it might have taken that much time."

Young said he had specifically requested that then-Capt. Dan Hanagami of HPD's white-collar crime unit handle the investigation. Hanagami was in charge of several investigations, including the Ewa Villages relocation fund scandal, and is also investigating City Councilwoman Rene Mansho for alleged improper use of city staff for campaign activities.

Young said besides Hanagami being one of the department's "best" investigators, he thought it would be better for a higher-ranking officer to investigate the case.

"I didn't trust internal affairs," Young said. "But internal affairs is made up of detectives," who Young referred to as "lower-ranking officers."

"It is difficult to go and investigate these superior officers."

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