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Former Maui police officer allegedly tried to pay underage girl for sex

  • COURTESY PHOTO
                                Brandon Saffeels

    COURTESY PHOTO

    Brandon Saffeels

A former Maui police officer scheduled to report to federal prison in January was arrested again Sunday in an undercover operation and accused of sending nude images and trying to set up sex with an underage girl for money.

Brandon Charles Saffeels, 37, of Wailuku, was arrested on suspicion of electronic enticement of a child in the first degree, indecent electronic display to a child, and solicitation of a minor for prostitution. The Maui Prosecuting Attorney dismissed the state charges against Saffeels without prejudice, and he will be prosecuted by attorneys with the U.S. Department of Justice.

On Sunday, Saffeels allegedly used the online and text message handle “JON” to arrange sex with who he thought was a girl under the age of 18. He set up the meeting spot and went to the location, according to state court documents.

Saffeels allegedly “did intentionally masturbate or expose the genitals in lewd or lascivious manner live over a computer online service, internet service, or local bulletin board service,” according to the state criminal complaint, and sent it to an undercover agent posing as an underage girl.

Saffeels allegedly told the agent he would pay for the sex.

Nine others were arrested with Saffeels between Friday and Sunday as part of Operation Keiki Shield, a continuing operation to arrest people who use the internet to try to have sex with kids. The task force is also looking to find and rescue child victims of sexual exploitation and abuse, according to a news release from the Maui Police Department.

Since Operation Keiki Shield started on Maui in March 2020, 23 people have been arrested.

On Nov. 2, Saffeels was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for public corruption in the form of honest services wire fraud. He pleaded guilty in May to engaging 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.

In that case 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.

He was due to turn himself into the Federal Correctional Institution, in Sheridan, Ore., by noon on Jan. 7. On Dec. 1, Saffeels, who was free before his prison time started, received approval from a federal judge to fly to California to visit his children from Dec. 17 to Jan. 7.

Operation Keiki Shield is managed by the state Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Taskforce, and was run over the weekend by the Maui Police Department, ICAC Taskforce, the Honolulu Police Department, the Kauai Police Department, the United States Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations Honolulu, the United States Secret Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Also arrested in the sweep were:

Dec. 3:

Mark Hegnabon, 21, of Kahului, electronic enticement of a child in the first degree, Bail: $150,000

Adrian Ortiz, 20, of Wailuku, electronic enticement of a child in the first degree, Bail: $150,000

Dec. 4:

Zachariah Abejon, 23, of Paia, electronic enticement of a child in the first degree – HRS § 707-756, Bail: $150,000

Bryan Padilla-Arambula, 23, of Kahului, electronic enticement of a child in the first degree – HRS § 707-756, Bail: $150,000

Brandon Saffeels, 37, of Wailuku, electronic enticement of a child in the first degree – HRS § 707-756, indecent electronic display to a child – HRS § 707-759, solicitation of a minor for prostitution – HRS § 712-1209, Bail: $500,000

Dec. 5:

Sebastian Bischert, 40, of Hamburg, Germany, electronic enticement of a child in the first degree – HRS § 707-756, indecent electronic display to a child – HRS § 707-759, Bail: $150,000

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