Ex-police officer sentenced to 2 years in prison

Maldonado stole money from man during stop, engaged in bribery scheme


The Maui News

A former Maui police officer was sentenced to two years in prison Tuesday for stealing money from a man during a traffic stop and later trying to bribe the victim to drop his complaint.

Anthony “Ikaika” Maldonado of Kahului also was placed on three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution of $1,917.70 in federal court on Oahu, according to Mali Fenton, assistant U.S. attorney for Hawaii.

He faced up to 21 years in prison and $350,000 in fines for pleading guilty in April to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law and one count of conspiracy to commit witness tampering.

According to court documents and information presented in court, Maldonado was working as a Lahaina patrol officer when he conducted a traffic stop at Mala Wharf on Sept. 30, 2015. The driver, who was alone in the car, used crutches to stand when he got out of the vehicle and spoke limited English.

Maldonado removed a waistpack from the driver and stole about $1,800 from the waistpack. When the victim later realized the cash was missing, he reported the theft to police.

Maldonado and four others, including two other police officers, have pleaded guilty to participating in a plan to try to bribe the victim to withdraw the complaint, according to an indictment handed down in November.

Former Maui police officer Chase Keliipaakaua was sentenced Aug. 17 to conspiracy to commit witness tampering for his role in the bribery. He received four months in jail and three years of supervised release.

Another person involved in the bribery scheme, Damien Kaina Jr., was sentenced on the same day to two months in jail, a period of home confinement, and three years of supervised release for witness tampering.

Former police Sgt. Walter “Kepa” Ahuna is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to witness tampering in June 2017.

Ahuna, Keliipaakaua and Maldonado are no longer with the Maui Police Department.

In exchange for Maldonado’s pleas in April, the government agreed to dismiss a charge of conspiracy to commit witness tampering against Maldonado’s wife, Kelsey Maldonado.

The traffic stop occurred Sept. 30, 2015, at Mala Wharf, according to court records. After the victim reported the theft, Maldonado was arrested Oct. 1, 2015, released pending further investigation of the theft and placed on leave.

Later in October 2015, Keliipaakaua received a call from Maldonado, who said he was thinking about offering the victim money so he would withdraw the complaint against Maldonado, according to court documents. Keliipaakaua advised Maldonado not to present the bribe himself because if the plan didn’t succeed, he could face another charge for bribing a witness.

On Oct. 13, 2015, Kaina went to the victim’s house and offered him about $2,000 he received from Maldonado in exchange for the victim withdrawing his complaint against Maldonado. The victim eventually took $1,800 from Kaina so he would leave, court documents said.

Kaina’s cousin, Ahuna, picked up Kaina and drove him to Maalaea, where Maldonado was waiting in Kaina’s car.

The next morning, the victim reported what happened to police, court documents said.

Maldonado expected the victim to withdraw his complaint Oct. 14, 2015, at the Lahaina Police Station and informed Keliipaakaua, who was working there that day, according to court documents. Keliipaakaua texted Maldonado when the victim didn’t show up. After Maldonado asked, Keliipaakaua called the victim to ask whether he planned to go to the station to withdraw the complaint, court documents show.