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Former Maui officer faces state and federal charges

He was arrested for allegedly soliciting a minor for sex

Former Maui Police Department officer Brandon Saffeels is facing both state and federal charges in connection with his arrest Sunday for allegedly soliciting someone he believed to be a child for sex.

During his arraignment Tuesday in 2nd Circuit Court, Saffeels, 37, of Waiehu pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree electronic enticement of a child, indecent electronic display to a child and solicitation of a minor for prostitution.

He was ordered to be held without bail pending a pretrial conference Jan. 18.

Police said Saffeels was among six people arrested over the weekend in Operation Keiki Shield 10, which targeted offenders who commit internet-facilitated sexual crimes against children.

He was scheduled to appear this morning before Magistrate Judge Kenneth Mansfield in U.S. District Court in Honolulu.

According to an affidavit supporting a complaint charging Saffeels with attempted enticement of a minor, he used a phone number registered to him to contact an undercover law enforcement officer at about 10:30 a.m. Friday. The two exchanged messages over a 38-hour period, with the undercover officer at one point saying, “Plz don’t judge but im 13,” according to the affidavit.

Saffeels reportedly sent messages saying he had money for sex and later sent a nude photograph, according to the affidavit. It says MPD officers familiar with Saffeels viewed the photograph and verified it was Saffeels.

At about 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Saffeels allegedly contacted the undercover officer and asked that they meet for sex, the affidavit says. After the officer asked to meet at Safeway at Piilani Village Shopping Center in Kihei, Saffeels went to the store and was apprehended at 12:11 a.m. as he was leaving the store, according to the affidavit.

In an interview with an MPD detective and FBI special agents, Saffeels admitted to sending the messages, believing he was speaking with a 13-year-old girl, and admitted he intended to have sexual contact with the girl when he entered the store, according to the affidavit.

Saffeels had been an MPD officer for about four years before he was fired Nov. 22, 2019, after being placed on unpaid leave in August 2019 following an investigation into a complaint involving a woman he arrested for driving under the influence of an intoxicant after a crash. After she was released from custody, Saffeels began communicating with the woman over the phone and through text messages, soliciting a sexual relationship with her and telling her he would help her “beat” the case being brought against her by the Maui County prosecuting attorney, according to information in a federal public corruption case against Saffeels.

In November, he was sentenced to two and a half years in federal prison after pleading guilty to seven counts of wire fraud. Saffeels, who had been released on a $25,000 unsecured bond, was ordered to turn himself in Jan. 7 to serve the prison term. He had been allowed to travel to California from Dec. 17 to visit his children before the date to turn himself in, according to court records.

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

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