2 back in jail after violating court order

WAILUKU – Two men who had been released on bail in a methamphetamine trafficking case are back in jail after they were recorded having a conversation in the courthouse parking lot.

Keanu Chung-Leong, 21, of Kula and Martin Tevaga, 26, of Wailuku were arrested last month on warrants alleging they had violated a court order that they have no contact with each other.

Second Circuit Judge Peter Cahill imposed the order as part of bail conditions when Chung-Leong and Tevaga appeared in court for their arraignments the morning of Aug. 6. Both pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree methamphetamine trafficking and possessing drug paraphernalia.

Shortly after the co-defendants left the courtroom following their arraignments, Deputy Prosecutor Tracy Jones saw Chung-Leong and Tevaga having a conversation in the public parking level of the courthouse, according to court records. A photo showing the two together and video and audio recordings were presented as evidence during a hearing for Chung-Leong last week.

In court Thursday, defense attorney Chris Dunn asked that the $200,000 warrant for Chung-Leong be recalled, noting that he had previously posted a $100,000 bond to be released in the case.

“You have a young man with no prior record,” Dunn said. “Granted, he has violated one of the conditions that the court imposed on him.”

After spending 23 days in jail, “he has gotten the message loud and clear,” Dunn said.

He said Chung-Leong had turned himself in last month after learning about the warrant for violating the bail condition.

“It was real easy not to violate that,” Judge Cahill said. “All we’re talking about is what part of no contact did Mr. Chung-Leong not understand. It was pretty blatant. It really was.”

Deputy Prosecutor Timothy Tate argued for revocation of Chung-Leong’s bail.

According to testimony before a Maui County grand jury that indicted Chung-Leong and Tevaga, police recovered almost 2 ounces of methamphetamine when a search warrant was executed Nov. 5 on the unit at Kulanaa’o Apartments on Vevau Street in Kahului where Tevaga, his wife and children were living, Tate said.

The methamphetamine was packaged for sale, and a scale and other drug paraphernalia also were recovered, he said.

When police officers entered the apartment, Chung-Leong was seen “attempting to destroy evidence” by throwing contraband out the back window, Tate said. Officers recovered the evidence outside the apartment.

Cahill kept bail at $200,000 for Chung-Leong, who previously had been ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs and to stay away from Vevau Street.

As additional conditions if he posts bail, Chung-Leong was ordered to abide by a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, which would allow him to work during the other hours.

He also was ordered to obtain and pay for electronic monitoring if he is released on bail, with reports to be sent to the court every two weeks.

“I think it would be appropriate if for no other reason so we can ensure the defendant is complying with court orders,” Cahill said.

A hearing on Tevaga’s request to reduce his bail, also set at $200,000, was delayed until next Thursday. In Tevaga’s case as well, Cahill ordered the additional requirements for electronic monitoring and a curfew. The exception to the curfew would be to allow Tevaga to attend school functions for his children, Cahill said.

Deputy Public Defender Wendy Hudson said the curfew would affect income for Tevaga, who has three jobs and four children under age 6. She said he works as a hairstylist, fire-knife dancer and security guard, with nighttime hours for two of the jobs.

Tevaga has been in jail since he surrendered to be arrested on the warrant Aug. 12.