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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 10:50 a.m., Thursday, October 11, 2001

Ex-officer pleads not guility in police food case

By Johnny Brannon
Advertiser Staff Writer

A former Honolulu police officer pleaded not guilty to second degree theft in Circuit Court today, the latest move in a widening scandal that centers on the alleged diversion of funds meant to buy food for prisoners held at police headquarters.

The former officer, John M. Spondike, 52, was a contract food service worker for the Honolulu Police Department when he allegedly participated in the scam, deputy prosecutor Rowena Somerville said. He was a food contract worker from 1995 to 1998, the police department said.

"He's been charged with taking over $300 worth of food or items from HPD," Somerville said.

Spondike, a 26-year police veteran and former Internal Affairs detective, is the fifth suspect arrested in the case, in which two high-ranking current police officers have also been charged with second degree theft. Asst. Police Chief Rafael Fajardo Jr., 59, and Maj. Jeffrey Owens, 50, pleaded not guilty to the charges in August. Theyare accused of tapping the prisoner food budget to buy fancy meals for themselves and other officers.

Spondike had scheduled a change of plea following his arraignment today — normally an opportunity to plead guilty — but waived that proceeding without explanation. He and his attorney, Sam King, declined to comment. Spondike's trial is set for Dec. 10 before Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto.

Two additional food service workers have been arrested in the case, but one has agreed to cooperate with investigators and will not be charged, prosecutors have said.

The misuse of money allegedly occurred between 1995 and 2000, when Fajardo, and later Owens, were in charge of the police department's central receiving division, where most people arrested on O'ahu are booked. The two have been relieved of their police powers and command responsibilities but remain on duty.