Settlement reached in police extortion case
Maui County and the Maui Police Department have reached a monetary settlement with a woman, who was the victim of false arrest and imprisonment and extorted for sex by police officers in 2008, attorneys involved in the case said in a joint statement Tuesday.
Per the terms of the settlement, attorneys agreed not to disclose the amount of the settlement for the plaintiff, Tracy Motelewski of Lahaina. Motelewski’s attorney, Jeffrey Portnoy, said that the settlement was solely a monetary one and that the settlement had been finalized by the federal court.
The settlement involved “the false arrest, wrongful imprisonment, illegal search and seizure and false reporting” involving Motelewski by then-officers Steven Gunderson and Kristopher Galon, the statement said.
Both officers were terminated by the 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 the arrest and tampering with evidence and was placed on five years’ probation and fined $5,000 in July 2011.
Galon plead 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 the plaintiff.
The officer, who had been decorated for heroism by the department in 2004, was sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to pay restitution.
Portnoy said Galon got out of prison about a month ago.
According to the lawsuit that was originally filed in state court, Motelewski and a male passenger were stopped at Puamana Park on Aug. 17, 2008. When the passenger went to use the restroom, first Galon, and then Gunderson approached Motelewski. At the time, both men were working as Lahaina patrol officers.
After questioning Mote-lewski, Gunderson searched her vehicle and a bag in the trunk belonging to the male passenger, seizing a container allegedly containing a white powdery substance. Then he confiscated Motelewski’s purse, which contained $500 and a ring, according to the lawsuit.
Gunderson released the male passenger. Motelewski was arrested and held overnight in a cell at the Lahaina Police Station.
According to the lawsuit, Gunderson knew the white powdery substance wasn’t an illegal narcotic.
When Motelewski was released at about 5 a.m. the next day without being charged, her purse wasn’t returned and she was forced to walk home, the complaint said. It also said that Galon, who was still on duty, pulled over on Honoapiilani Highway, offered Motelewski a ride, which she accepted, and drove her in his patrol car, before pulling into a parking lot near Puukolii Road.
Galon then extorted her for sexual favors.
The lawsuit originally included the Maui Police Department, County of Maui, Gunderson and Galon. Portnoy said that the only unsettled part of the case remaining involves Galon.