A former Honolulu Police Department officer pleaded guilty Wednesday to trying to extort the owners of a Honolulu hostess bar.
Roddy Tsunezumi, 38, pleaded guilty in federal court in Honolulu to one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by threats and violence.
Tsunezumi admitted to trying to extort $15,000 from the business owners from June to October last year in exchange for protection from a kidnapping and robbery plot.
He said the hostess bar owners approached him about a threat, and he told them they could hire Jeremy Javillo, who could provide security.
“I encouraged them to hire Jeremy rather than go to police,” he told U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Sorenson said Tsunezumi tried to profit from a legitimate threat and fanned the flames by telling the bar owners that the criminals “want all your stuff, from what I heard.”
He told the owners that the police would be ineffective and could only assist after something bad had occurred.
Sorenson said Javillo, Tsunezumi’s accomplice, bought a disposable phone to send threatening text messages to one of the bar owners to further intimidate them in the hopes of getting paid.
A court document filed in June also charged Tsunezumi with replacing the vehicle identification numbers on stolen vehicles with identification numbers from junked or salvaged vehicles to sell the stolen vehicles from August 2011 to October.
Under the plea agreement, government attorneys agreed to dismiss the vehicle fraud charge against Tsunezumi.
Tsunezumi faces up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release when he is sentenced Nov. 5. He was released on $50,000 bond.
His attorney declined to comment after the hearing, but Tsunezumi told the judge that he was taking Lorazepam for anxiety and seeing a psychiatrist for depression and anxiety.
Tsunezumi resigned from the police department on April 9. HPD said he was an officer with the department’s Traffic Division and had nine years of service.
The police department had no comment Wednesday.
Javillo, Tsunezumi’s co-defendant, is scheduled to plead guilty Thursday.