County: $200K to settle in false arrest, extortion case

Maui County has paid $200,000 to a Lahaina woman to settle a lawsuit she brought after being falsely arrested and imprisoned and extorted for sex by police officers in 2008.

The county disclosed the settlement amount Monday afternoon, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Maui News. The county provided a copy of a check dated July 30 for $200,000 made out to Tracy Motelewski and Cades Schutte LLP, the law firm that represented her.

As part of the settlement, attorneys had agreed not to disclose the amount.

Motelewski’s attorney, Jeffrey Portnoy, said last week that the settlement had been finalized by the U.S. District Court in Honolulu.

According to a joint statement released last week by Portnoy and attorneys for Maui County, the settlement involved “the false arrest, wrongful imprisonment, illegal search and seizure and false reporting” involving Motelewski by then-Lahaina patrol officers Steven Gunderson and Kristopher Galon.

Both officers were terminated by the Maui Police Department due to their actions in the case, the statement said.

Gunderson pleaded guilty to second-degree theft for stealing $500 from the plaintiff’s purse during her arrest and tampering with evidence and was placed on five years’ probation and fined $5,000 in July 2011.

Galon pleaded guilty in federal court in May 2011 to two counts of depriving a person of rights under color of law. One of the counts involved extorting a sex act from Motelewski.

The officer, who had been decorated for heroism by the department in 2004, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution.

According to the lawsuit originally filed in state court, Motelewski was arrested, held overnight in a cell, but not charged following a search of a vehicle she was in at Puamana Park on Aug. 17, 2008. The sexual extortion occurred after she was released the next day when Galon, while still on duty, offered her a ride as she was walking on Honoapiilani Highway and then drove her to a parking lot near Puukolii Road where he demanded sexual favors, the lawsuit said.