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Halawa guard faces drug smuggling charges

By Star Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 01:17 a.m. HST, Jan 14, 2014

Halawa Correctional Facility guard James "Kimo" Sanders III pleaded not guilty Monday to charges related to trafficking methamphetamine in the prison and bribery.

He was arrested Sunday at the correctional facility and spent a night in the Federal Detention Center.

Sanders, 31, who has worked as an adult corrections officer at Halawa for about a year, was released Monday on a $50,000 bond and placed in the custody of his grandmother. Sanders lives in Kailua. His trial was scheduled for March 18.

During Sander's arraignment, U.S. District Magistrate Judge Barry M. Kurren ordered him to turn over his passport and wear a GPS device, as a condition of his release.

Kurren barred Sanders from working at any prison pending his trial. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Nammar said Sanders had expected to be assigned to desk duty at the Halawa facility.

Sanders pleaded not guilty to four charges: two counts of distributing methamphetamine; conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine; and bribery.

The indictment by a federal grand jury arose out of an FBI investigation, with help from the state Department of Public Safety, the Honolulu Police Department and the Internal Revenue Service, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The person or persons who received the methamphetamine was not named in the indictment. FBI spokesman Tom Simon declined to comment on whether any charges against other persons were pending.

Sanders is accused of distributing five grams or more of methamphetamine on Nov. 15, and distributing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine one week later, on Nov. 22.

If convicted either of conspiracy or the distribution of 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, he faces up to life in prison, with a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10 million, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The department said if convicted of distributing five grams or more of methamphetamine, Sanders may face up to 40 years in prison, a mandatory minimum of five years of incarceration, and a fine of up to $5 million.

Public Safety Director Ted Sakai, who administers the state's prison system, said his agency is working with county and federal officials to weed out "corrupt employees in our prisons."

In 2004, four former prison guards on Maui pleaded guilty to charges involving methamphetamines.

"This kind of crime seriously undermines our ability to keep our prisons and ... the public safe."

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false wrote:
100 grams is a lot, especially for use in the prison!
on January 13,2014 | 10:11AM
MichelleBringas wrote:
oh oh....someone is in seriously BIG trouble...He shoulda worked at a car wash part time for a year to get the $10,000. Now his life is completely ruined forever not including the time he will spend in solitary or ad seg. What, maybe ten years in prison?? I remember working two days a week packing bologna on weekends for $50 bucks a day. That equals to $5200 per year....I still have a good job and my freedom. This fool must have thought he was gangsta!!
on January 13,2014 | 10:15AM
cojef wrote:
There goes a good retirement benefits down the drain. Now, he and his family have poverty facing them the rest of their lives. Poor choices, lack of discipline, no structure in your life and faith in doing an honest job.
on January 13,2014 | 02:14PM
jess wrote:
This is why our prison system is so screwed up.. many of the guards at our prisons are themselves criminals. Everything about our correctional facilities in this state needs to be revamped, starting at the top with Mr. Sakai.
on January 13,2014 | 10:18AM
false wrote:
As they say, it flows downhill.
on January 13,2014 | 11:09AM
agile wrote:
TOTALLY AGREE, jess. Until Sakai faces repercussions and penalties for anything in his prison system, expect nothing to change.
on January 13,2014 | 11:26AM
issuesgal wrote:
Do you think Ted Sakai brought these problems with him when he was assigned to the job? Of course not! Every corrections facility nationwide deals with this problem. According to the story, this corrupt employee was investigated and arrested on Ted Sakai's watch.. I'd say that's proof he's doing what he was brought in to do.. make changes.
on January 14,2014 | 07:57AM
GooglyMoogly wrote:
Did you not read the article? They actually caught this guy. And besides, incidents like this involving criminal activity by prison personnel have been pretty isolated.
on January 13,2014 | 01:20PM
jess wrote:
Incidents like this seem to be isolated because they are never caught. This guy was caught by the FBI because he was dealing major weight. You make it seem as if DPS was responsible for catching Sanders, which they most definitely were not.
on January 13,2014 | 01:23PM
GooglyMoogly wrote:
Where should I start? Does DPS have the authority to arrest? It would've been HPD or FBI who caught him. Second, how do we know they're never caught? How do you know there's something going on there requiring someone even BE caught? Just because?
on January 13,2014 | 03:20PM
jess wrote:
Do you know people in jail? I do, there is corruption everywhere when it comes to guards. There are good people in DPS, they are not all bad, but there is a lot of stuff that is ignored. Drug use in the prison system is just the tip of the iceberg.
on January 13,2014 | 05:07PM
issuesgal wrote:
I agree. Just because we don't hear about it doesn't mean changes aren't happening. And I'm thinking a majority of the employees are doing the job right, that's why you don't hear about it as much here as you do on the mainland. DPS can't charge the guy with felony charges... the FBI can. It was a good thing DPS worked with the Feds in to really nail people like this.
on January 14,2014 | 08:01AM
HanabataDays wrote:
So let's see ... the guy who brought that much through the airport got 30 years recently, right? So I figure the guard deserves 60.
on January 13,2014 | 10:59AM
jess wrote:
He should probably get more since he was sneaking it into a correctional facility.
on January 13,2014 | 12:27PM
GooglyMoogly wrote:
I don't disagree that he deserves a lot of time behind bars, but the other guy brought it over state lines. I wouldn't doubt he's held to a higher standard as a corrections officer, but I wonder if he gets the same sentence.
on January 13,2014 | 01:22PM
bumba wrote:
Raise their pay, and raise the bar too. Seems as though the only qualifications needed to be an ACO is a willingness to take the job and the ability to swing a club. Retest and retrain every one of them. This isn't the first time they've caught one of these guys smuggling drugs.
on January 13,2014 | 11:11AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
$10,000?? How did he get paid that amount? Someone on the outside paid him, because inmates could not get that kind of cash.
on January 13,2014 | 11:16AM
residenttaxpayer wrote:
Only one year into his job and already in the inmates trick bag.......what a crumb....
on January 13,2014 | 12:50PM
GooglyMoogly wrote:
Two years.
on January 13,2014 | 01:22PM
residenttaxpayer wrote:
"Sanders, 31, who has worked as an adult corrections officer at Halawa for about a year".........
on January 13,2014 | 11:29PM
Wazdat wrote:
Tip of the iceberg
on January 13,2014 | 03:39PM
aomohoa wrote:
These guys are over paid and have way to many benefits. Not very bright to give all that up.
on January 13,2014 | 03:49PM
Skyler wrote:
Ridiculously stupid thing to do. Hope the Feds lock his dingbat meth A up for a few years.
on January 13,2014 | 03:57PM
Carang_da_buggahz wrote:
Make an example out of this weasel. I have personally seen what batu does to people, not to mention the many family members who get dragged into the whole sordid mess. I vote for LIFE, with no regrets.
on January 13,2014 | 05:52PM
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