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Police Say Stolen Drug Money Bought Young Teens Fling With Luxury

February 9, 1989

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) _ A 14-year-old boy took $120,000 in drug money and treated himself and friends to a three-day spending spree that ended with a trip to Hawaii, authorities said Wednesday.

The three teen-agers’ life of leisure ended when Kauai police, alerted to their flight, picked them up on a beach Jan. 10 and recovered $111,000, police and school officials said.

Berkeley police would not comment Wednesday on the incident, which was reported in Wednesday’s editions of The (Oakland) Tribune.

According to Oakland Municipal Court records, one of the boys said he found the money and two bags of what he said was cocaine in a false-bottom drawer at a relative’s home.

The 14-year-old left the drugs but took the money and ran, he told police.

The teen-ager and some schoolmates set out to enjoy the windfall, renting a limousine to go to San Francisco, where they persuaded the driver to rent a room at the Mark Hopkins Hotel, the paper said.

Rooms at the hotel start at $175 a night but range up to $1,000, a hotel spokeswoman said. There was no way to tell which room the youths had, she said.

After their San Francisco fling, some of the students returned home, and several recounted their adventure to school officials, said Willard Junior High Principal Chris Lim.

The other teen-agers also said they bought stereo equipment and made reservations through a travel agent to go to Hawaii the next day.

The school then alerted the father of a 13-year-old girl thought to be traveling with the teen-ager who took the money and another 14-year-old boy. The father filed a missing persons’ report with Oakland police, who contacted police in Kauai.

″The flight had already arrived when we got the missing persons’ report. So we were looking for them when we got the report of a surfer in trouble in the Poipu area,″ said Kauai police Capt. Dennis Higashi.

The surfer, who was unharmed, turned out to be one of the teen-agers. The three were detained overnight and sent back to their parents.

″Basically, someone came up with the idea of ’Let’s go to Hawaii,‴ Kauai police Lt. Vincent Wiskneski said Wednesday.

Since their return, the three teen-agers have withdrawn from the junior high school, said Lim.

The principal denied the Tribune’s report that the girl and the boy who did not take the money went on the run after receiving an anonymous death threat. The paper cited an unidentified school official as its source. Berkeley Police said they had no information about any threat.

Acting on the statement of the youth who said he took the money, police in California searched his relative’s home and found a bag containing drug paraphernalia but no narcotics, the paper said.

Kauai, police, however, determined through conversations with California authorities that the money came as a result of drug trafficking, Higashi said.

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