AP NEWS

Prosecutors decline charges in Big Island stolen drug case

October 11, 2018

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) — Honolulu prosecutors have declined to file charges against a former Big Island police detective who authorities believed was involved in the theft of drug evidence.

Honolulu prosecutors found that the evidence did not support criminal charges, West Hawaii Today reported Wednesday.

Hawaii County prosecutors referred the case to Honolulu to avoid a potential conflict, asking prosecutors to consider three counts of securing the proceeds of an offense.

Big Island police began an investigation last fall after cocaine in the Hilo evidence storage facility was found to be lighter than reported when it was first booked into the facility. Following an audit of evidence, police also found other anomalies, including a weight discrepancy in marijuana concentrate.

The investigation examined a sworn employee as a person of interest for the missing evidence, police said. That employee was placed on administrative leave without pay, and the detective later retired.

Police never released the detective’s name. The newspaper was unable to confirm or report the identity because no arrests were made in the case.

The police investigation was sent to Hawaii County prosecutors in March. Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth reviewed the case and forwarded it to Honolulu. Roth said he wasn’t surprised that Honolulu declined charges.

“We have an ethical duty to only charge cases we believe we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt,” Roth said. “There’s a lot of cases that come to our office that we don’t charge.”

Deputy Chief Kenneth Bugado said police believed they had a “good case.”

“We obviously thought we had enough for a successful prosecution,” Bugado said. “They (prosecutors) make the determination. Apparently, they felt this investigation didn’t have enough.”

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Information from: West Hawaii Today, http://www.westhawaiitoday.com

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