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Police officer found not guilty in false-overtime case

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A state jury determined yesterday that Honolulu police officer Leighton Kato did not knowingly put false information in a police report that made it possible for his supervisor to later claim six hours of overtime.

The jury found Kato, 37, not guilty of tampering with a government record and two counts of being an accomplice to third-degree theft.

Kato is one of seven members of the traffic enforcement unit that conducts drunken-driving roadblocks who are accused of falsifying reports.

He was the first to stand trial. One other officer is scheduled to stand trial next week. Four others, including the supervisor, are scheduled to stand trial later this month. A seventh officer pleaded guilty in March and is awaiting sentencing.

Kato’s trial lasted two days. The jury deliberated less than an hour.

Kato stated in a report of a Nov. 29, 2009, DUI arrest that his supervisor, Sgt. Duke Zoller, was at the roadblock and directed the motorist to him.

Based on the report, the motorist’s lawyer and the prosecutor issued subpoenas for Zoller to appear at the motorist’s administrative license revocation hearing and trial in Honolulu District Court.

Zoller attended both and claimed three hours of overtime for each.

The prosecutor said Zoller was off duty on the date of the DUI arrest, and presented the jury records showing Zoller did not claim any work hours for that date, did not claim any mileage and didn’t use his portable and car radios.

Kato said he reported that Zoller was the officer who directed the motorist to him, based on a written report from another sergeant of the traffic enforcement unit and one attributed to Zoller.

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