Officer arraigned in bribery case


The Maui News

A Maui Police Department officer who was implicated along with two other officers for trying to bribe a witness two years ago was arraigned last week in federal court.

Chase Keliipaakaua, 31, is free on a $50,000 bond after he pleaded not guilty to witness tampering and destruction of records.

Keliipaakaua was charged along with former MPD officer Anthony Maldonado and Maldonado’s wife, Kelsey Maldonado, in an indictment handed down Nov. 9 by a federal grand jury.

According to court documents, Anthony Maldonado was working as a Lahaina patrol officer when he made a traffic stop Sept. 30, 2015, and stole about $1,800 from the driver.

The indictment alleges that from Oct. 10 to 15, 2015, Anthony Maldonado, Keliipaakaua and others participated in trying to bribe the driver so he would falsely report to the Police Department that he had found his missing money and would withdraw his theft complaint against Maldonado.

Maldonado’s wife obtained $4,500 in cash from a relative and provided some of the money to Maldonado to use for a bribe, according to the indictment.

She pleaded not guilty to witness tampering when she was arraigned Nov. 22 in U.S. District Court in Honolulu. She was released on a $25,000 bond.

Anthony Maldonado, 28, of Pukalani was released on a $50,000 bond after being arraigned Nov. 16 in federal court.

A Jan. 17 trial is set for the Maldonados and Keliipaakaua.

Two others — former MPD Sgt. Walter “Kepa” Ahuna and his cousin Damien Kaina Jr. — are awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to witness tampering.

Ahuna, who had been a police officer for about 15 years, resigned from the department.

Maldonado had been a police officer for about five years before he was placed on unpaid leave and resigned from the department.

Keliipaakaua, who has been a police officer for about eight years, remains employed by the department.