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6 more men charged in electronic sex sting

WAILUKU — Charges were brought against another six men who allegedly arranged to meet with someone each believed was an underage teenage girl for sex, bringing the total to 10 men arrested in the police sting operation in Kihei.

During initial appearances Wednesday afternoon in Wailuku District Court, bail was increased to $50,000 for John A. Wilcox, 52, of Kihei and to $100,000 for Jason Guthrie, 37, of Kihei.

Each was charged with first-degree electronic enticement of a child after allegedly making electronic contact with a law enforcement officer portraying a 13-year-old girl and showing up at an arranged meeting. Bail had been set at $20,000 for each man.

In asking for increased bail of $100,000 for both men, Deputy Prosecutor J.W. Hupp said the amount was consistent with bail set for other defendants who were charged and appeared in court.

He said Wilcox has an extensive criminal history, including a conviction for unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle in 1992 and nine contempt-of-court convictions.

“He shows a history of not complying with court instructions,” Hupp said.

Deputy Public Defender Rachel Miyoshi asked for Wilcox to be released on supervision or on his own recognizance, in light of the COVID-19 virus that “is particularly virulent among close quarters.” She said Wilcox just started working in landscaping and has family in Kihei and argued the charge wasn’t a violent crime.

Hupp said the prosecution considers the charge a crime of violence because the alleged intent was to commit sexual assault, which is a violent crime.

Hupp requested that Wilcox have no contact with anyone under age 18, noting Wilcox told police his household includes a 13-year-old girl, the same age that the undercover officer was representing herself to be.

“He was agreeing to meet with a 13-year-old, and he has a 13-year-old granddaughter in the residence,” Hupp said.

Judge Gloria Buckingham set bail for Wilcox at $50,000.

Guthrie also asked to be released on supervision, with Deputy Public Defender William Pannell saying the defendant works full time.

Hupp said Guthrie allegedly agreed to meet with a law enforcement officer who he believed was a 13-year-old girl and went to the arranged meeting location, where he was arrested.

Judge Kirstin Hamman set Guthrie’s bail at $100,000.

“Because of the nature of the allegations, I am concerned about the safety of the community,” she said.

Four other men were released after posting bail, according to police records.

Lyle Cummings, 46, of Haliimaile; Kays Abdelkarim, 52, of Wailuku: Berlin Rimalos, 42: of Kihei and Leonel Valdez, 27, of Kihei each were charged with first-degree electronic enticement of a child. Cummings, Abdelkarim and Rimalos were released after posting $20,000 bail. Valdez, who also was charged with indecent electronic display to a child, was released after posting $22,000 bail.

Police records show the 10 men were arrested from Friday to early Monday.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.

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