Officer in theft case
granted deferral

Robert Fu's record will be wiped
if he follows certain conditions

A former police officer who pleaded no contest to stealing $360 recovered during a drug arrest will have a chance to remove the conviction from his record after five years under conditions similar to probation.

Circuit Judge Virginia Crandall granted Robert Fu, 44, a deferral yesterday of his no-contest plea to second-degree theft, punishable by a maximum five-year prison term.

David Gierlach, Fu's attorney, said they are grateful she granted their request.

Fu, who has no previous criminal history and entered a plea before trial, has served his community honorably for many years and is not likely to re-offend, Gierlach said.

Although Fu was eligible for the deferral because the offense is a Class C felony and he has a clean record, Deputy Prosecutor Scott Bell objected. He said Fu's explanation for what happened was "simply not credible."

Police were called to respond to a case at a Waikiki hotel on Aug. 9, 2002, and found drugs, drug paraphernalia and cash in a shoe box. Fu, an 11-year veteran, was one of three Narcotics/Vice Division officers who arrived later and was responsible for searching the hotel room and recovering the evidence, police said. When later asked about the cash, Fu claimed ignorance.

John Nix, arrested in connection with the drugs, later complained to police that money he had in the room had not been entered into evidence.

Later, Fu told investigators he took the money intending to ask the officer in charge if it could be recovered, but accidentally flushed it down the toilet when he went to use the bathroom.

Bell said Fu did not tell anyone until three days later what happened and when he was already under suspicion. Fu had ample opportunity to tell someone the day of the search, Bell said, but instead denied seeing the money and pretended to help look for it at the hotel room.

"If in fact he actually flushed it down, he should have come forward immediately," Bell said. "It just wasn't credible."

Also, Honolulu police Internal Affairs Division re-created the events in the hotel bathroom based on Fu's statements. But when cash was flushed down the toilet, it did not go down as Fu described, Bell said.

The court was left with two explanations: Either Fu was incompetent or he was simply a thief, which the state argued, Bell said.

Gierlach said Fu has consistently maintained that is what happened that day. Also, Internal Affairs' re-creation of the events involved raising the toilet 10 inches off the floor, which may have affected the reliability of the experiment.

Fu has since resigned from the department and found another job.

The Honolulu Police Commission, which denied Fu's request to pay his legal fees last September, found that Fu did not follow police procedures that require evidence to be photographed before being removed from an investigation scene.


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