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Second HPD officer found innocent in overtime fraud case

By Star-Advertiser Staff

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 08:08 p.m. HST, May 12, 2011

 Dennis oda / doda@staradvertiser.com Honolulu police officer Michael Krekel is accused of signing off on unjustified claims for overtime payments on behalf of two of his sergeants. Krekel appeared in court yesterday during his trial on charges of tampering with a government record. Prosecutors say Sgts. Duke Zoller and Aaron Bernal claimed the time for working at drunken-driving checkpoints.

A 12-year Honolulu police officer accused of criminally falsifying police reports at DUI checkpoints for the benefit of his supervisors was found not guilty this afternoon.

Officer Michael R. Krekel was charged with two counts of tampering with a government record, and was found not guilty on both.

Last week, a jury found another officer, Leighton Kato, not guilty of tampering with a government record and being an accomplice to third-degree theft.

Prosecutors said that as part of a scheme to collect overtime pay, Krekel signed off on two reports that claimed Sgts. Duke Zoller and Aaron Bernal were at drunken-driving checkpoints on Nov. 28, 2009, and Jan. 15, 2010, respectively.

Zoller, Bernal and Krekel are among seven HPD officers charged in the case. All are part of the Selective Enforcement Unit, which coordinates checkpoints across the island to target motorists driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Krekel did not deny signing the reports, but insisted he cannot say for sure whether either man was at the checkpoints, and that he relied on information given to him by his supervisors when filling out paperwork.

Lawyers gave opening statements yesterday morning before Circuit Judge Edward Kubo. Krekel, 43, took the stand on his own behalf late in the afternoon.

Jury trials for Zoller, Bernal and two other officers are scheduled for later this month before Kubo.

A seventh officer, Brian Morris, pleaded guilty in Honolulu District Court in March to tampering with a government record.

He is awaiting sentencing but is asking the court to grant him a deferral of his guilty plea, which would give him a chance to clear his record.







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