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Trial begins for second officer accused of OT-rigging scheme

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Lawyers gave opening statements this morning in a case involving a Honolulu police officer accused of criminally falsifying police reports for the benefit of his supervisors.

Officer Michael R. Krekel is charged with two counts of tampering with a government record — misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine. Prosecutors say that as part of a scheme to collect overtime pay, Krekel signed off on two reports that claimed sergeants Duke Zoller and Aaron Bernal were at drunken-driving checkpoints on Nov. 28, 2009, and Jan. 15, 2010, respectively.

Krekel has not denied signing the reports, but insists he cannot say for sure whether either men were at the checkpoints or not, and that he relies on information given to him by his supervisors when filling out paperwork.

The three men were charged in the case along with four other HPD officers who are part of the Selective Enforcement Unit, which coordinates checkpoints across the island to target motorists driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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.

Jury trials for Zoller, Bernal and two other officers are scheduled for later this month before Circuit Judge Edward H. Kubo Jr.

A seventh officer, Brian Morris, pleaded guilty in state 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 the charge from his record.

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