A former Maui police officer today was sentenced to two and a half years in federal prison after he solicited a sexual relationship with a woman he had arrested for drunk driving in exchange for his help sabotaging the case against her.
U.S.District Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi sentenced Maui resident Brandon Charles Saffeels to 30 months in prison for public corruption in the form of honest services wire fraud, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s for the District of Hawaii.
The indictment to which Saffeels, 36, pleaded guilty in May says he engaged in a bribery scheme in which he solicited a sexual relationship with a female motorist in exchange for an official act as a Maui Police Department officer, according to the release.
Saffeels “used his official position to enrich himself by soliciting sex from an individual” in exchange for his help getting the woman out of the drunk-driving charge, according to the Oct. 21, 2020 indictment.
He “exchanged a number of text messages and engaged in a phone call” with the woman and “solicited sex in exchange for providing false and faulty testimony” in the woman’s criminal trial to sabotage the case, according to court documents.
“I’m gonna tell u how to beat it though. So it gets dismissed,” Saffeels wrote in a text message to the woman, according to court documents.
Saffeels told the woman he would provide perjured testimony at her trial so that the court would throw it out or the jury would find in her favor. However, Saffeels also told the woman that she would have to meet in person for him to help her.
“Just come. Bring clothes,” Saffeels texted the woman on July 28, 2019.
He later lied to federal investigators when asked about his arrangement with the woman.
“Brandon Saffeels betrayed our expectation that law enforcement officers will not take advantage of their authority for personal benefit. This prosecution demonstrates our determination to hold public officials accountable for criminal abuse of their positions,” acting U.S. Attorney for Hawaii Judith A. Philips said in the release.
The FBI conducted the investigation and assistant U.S. Attorney Mohammad Khatib prosecuted the case for the U.S. Department of Justice.
“The cornerstone of the public’s trust in law enforcement relies on the expectation that each person who takes the oath to protect and serve the public will do so with integrity. Today, former Officer Saffeels was sentenced for violating that trust. I’m proud of our team who worked collaboratively after becoming aware of concerns regarding the former officer’s conduct. They exemplify our commitment to ensure all public servants are worthy of the public’s trust and confidence,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Steven Merrill, in a release.
In a letter submitted to Judge Kobayashi Sept. 9, Saffeels apologized to the woman, the court and the community for his actions. He expressed “extreme regret” for his actions that impacted his family, himself and the reputation of police officers.
He must turn himself into the Federal Correctional Institution, Sheridan, Ore., by noon on Jan. 7.