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Waiawa prison officer pleads not guilty to reckless endangering, drug charges

By Gregg K. Kakesako

LAST UPDATED: 2:32 p.m. HST, Apr 5, 2012

The 49-year-old Wai­awa Correctional Facility lieutenant who is charged with firing his weapon at his Pearl City home last month entered a plea of not guilty at his initial Circuit Court appearance this morning.

Damon Pavao, a watch commander at the minimum security facility, is charged with first-degree reckless endangering, promotion of a dangerous drug and possession of drug paraphernalia. Pavao is free after posting a $25,000 bail.

Police closed the only access to Pacific Palisades for two hours while they negotiated with Pavao on the night of March 28.

Circuit Judge Richard Perkins set his trial date for the week of June 4 before Circuit Judge Randal Lee.

Pavao has been with the Department of Public Safety since 1998, according to its director Jodie Maesaka-Hirata. He was promoted to sergeant in 2003 and elevated to lieutenant last year.

She said Pavao is considered "a reliable individual" and is responsible for overseeing the adult correctional officers at Waiawa. He was placed on unpaid leave pending an internal investigation.

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