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6 HPD officers plead not guilty in alleged overtime scam

A seventh is expected to enter a plea Thursday

By Gary T. Kubota

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 06:09 p.m. HST, Oct 25, 2010



Two sergeants and five police officers attached to traffic enforcement with the Honolulu Police Department are accused of padding their overtime.

Six of them pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges today in Honolulu District Court.

The charges are related to them reporting hours working at DUI checkpoints when they did not, according to the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers.

Lynne Waters, spokeswoman with the city prosecutor's office, said as a result of their association with certain enforcement actions, more than 200 DUI cases were dismissed, representing about 5 percent of all DUI arrests annually.

Waters said none of the cases involved serious injuries. 

The charges facing the seven are each punishable with a maximum of 1 year in jail and a $2,000 fine, upon conviction.

 Waters  said the alleged amount of money taken in some cases was relatively small, ranging from $100 to $300.

"It was caught fairly early, so it didn't get out of hand," Waters said.

Waters said no other police officers were expected to the charged.

The seven have been placed on restrictive duty, pending the outcome of their respective cases, she said.

The two sergeants charged with padding their overtime were Aaron Bernal, five counts of tampering with government record and two counts of third-degree theft; and Duke Zoller, three counts of tampering with a government record and two counts of third-degree theft.

Bernal has worked for the department for 19 years, and Zoller, 17 years.

Others included Christopher Bugarin, two counts of tampering with a government record; his brother Patrick, three counts; Leighton Kato, three counts; and Michael Krekel, two counts.

Krekel and Zoller's cases were transferred to Circuit Court, where they could request jury trials upon their appearance on Nov. 15.

Police officer Brian Morris, charged with two counts of tampering with a government record, is scheduled to enter a plea in Honolulu District Court at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

Bernal, Kato and the Bugarins were scheduled to appear in District Court at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 15 to decide if they wanted to waive or demand a jury trial.






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