Documents indicate web of corruption
By Ken Kobayashi
Advertiser Courts Writer
By Ken Kobayashi
A massive two-year FBI investigation that produced indictments charging more than 35 people with cockfighting, gambling, extortion and drug offenses began when a confidential informant told authorities that the home of an FBI secretary was used as a "stash house" for drugs, according to court documents recently unsealed.
The documents reviewed yesterday by The Advertiser include affidavits by FBI agents alleging a wide range of criminal activity and explaining the need for wiretaps to get information that would not be otherwise available. The FBI at one point said it did not believe that undercover officers could be used because of one drug defendant's "probable tight-knit law enforcement contacts."
The documents show that at least 10 phones were tapped, including the cell phones of Bryson Apo, a Honolulu police officer; James Rodenhurst, a Honolulu Liquor Commission inspector supervisor; and Herbert Naone, head of security at Aloha Stadium. All three were charged in the indictments.
The transcripts of the phone taps were not released. Defense attorneys are expected to receive those portions dealing with their clients later.
The papers provide a broad outline of what is believed to be the most wide-ranging investigation here by federal authorities in years. Four other police officers were also named in the indictments, but court cases asking for permission from federal judges to wiretap individuals mention at least three other officers and five Liquor Commission employees who have not been charged.
U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo could not be reached for comment, but has said the investigation was still continuing.
The telephone of Charmaine Moniz, the former FBI secretary, was not tapped, according to the documents, but an FBI affidavit said the investigation started in March 2004 when she was suspected of providing confidential law enforcement information to her husband, Eric Moniz, and to other suspected North Shore drug dealers.
A confidential source that month said the Moniz home was used by Damien Kalei Hina as a "stash house" for Hina's drugs. The source also said Eric Moniz and Hina believed the house would be safe because Charmaine Moniz would learn of any raids and because the place, given her employment, would be "beyond suspicion," according to the FBI affidavit.
The FBI later learned Charmaine Moniz researched known drug dealers in FBI files, the affidavit said.
She also researched herself, her husband and other relatives, the document said.
Her computer terminal was placed under surveillance, but firing her would hamper efforts to break up Hina's drug enterprise, the affidavit said in explaining why the FBI wanted to tap Hina's cell phone.
Charmaine Moniz admitted on Dec. 21, 2004, she made unauthorized inquiries into the FBI computer and she was placed on administrative leave, the affidavit said.
The Moniz home in Waialua was searched that day, and about 8 grams of crystal methamphetamine was seized, according to the court papers.
The FBI also executed 24 other search warrants that day and the next two days, seizing 10 pounds each of crystal methamphetamine and cocaine, more than 1,000 tablets of the drug ecstasy, more than 3 pounds of marijuana, steroids, human growth hormone, firearms and about $100,000 in cash, according to the documents.
Charmaine Moniz, her husband and Hina, described as a leader of a North Shore drug ring, were charged in one of the indictments with plotting to distribute methamphetamine.
The files indicate the FBI received permission to tap Hina's cell phone in June 2004, and evidence gathered in that case led to wiretaps to expand the investigation.
According to the files, the FBI received authorization to tap Naone's cell phone in July 2004; a Liquor Commission cell phone, issued to Rodenhurst, in August 2004; and Apo's cell phone in December 2004.
At least three officers who were not charged were mentioned in the FBI affidavits reviewed by The Advertiser. The FBI affidavits said a source indicated one officer was seen buying ice; another officer provided a drug defendant with information; and a third arrested two cockfighters, but not a drug defendant who acted as a referee.
OTHERS AT COMMISSION
The FBI affidavit seeking permission to tap Rodenhurst's phone refers to five Liquor Commission employees, one identified by a nickname. The document alleges two were believed to be extorting bar owners, another was believed to be assisting Rodenhurst with extorting a nightclub, a fourth is someone Rodenhurst trusted and would assist him in extorting bars, and the fifth assisted Rodenhurst in protecting a bar from the Liquor Commission's enforcement of liquor laws.
Naone was placed on paid vacation this week at his request while state and stadium officials decide his status.
An FBI affidavit describes him as "a mentor in drug trafficking organizations" who has "provided assistance and law enforcement intelligence to those organizations."
He is charged with Rodenhurst in one of the indictments with extorting the owner of two nightclubs.
Naone's lawyer, Chris Evans, said his client knows a lot of people, but is not a drug adviser. Evans also said law enforcement has sought information from Naone "because of the people that he knows."
Evans quoted Naone as saying: "I've never advised people regarding drugs."
Rodenhurst's lawyer, Myles Breiner, said he and his client "vehemently" deny the allegations in the affidavits.
Alexander Silvert, first assistant federal public defender, who represents Apo, said he knew his client's phone was tapped, but Silvert said he doesn't have anything else to say at this point.
Silvert, though, said he was mistaken earlier when he said his client had resigned from the police force. Apo is on administrative leave like the four other officers charged in the case.
Lawyers for other defendants could not be reached for comment.
The investigation could have far-reaching effects beyond the criminal cases.
The announcement of indictments against the five officers prompted Honolulu Police Chief Boisse Correa to say an internal investigation will expand to officers not charged in the indictments. He said any officer associated with activities in the case would be investigated.
Dewey Kim Jr., who was appointed administrator for the Liquor Commission earlier this month, said the commission would cooperate with federal authorities and his No. 1 priority would be to rid the commission of any wrongdoing.
The officers and others named in the 10 indictments have been appearing in court to plead not guilty. Some have been ordered held without bail.
Apo and officers Kevin Brunn and Glenn Miram are charged with plotting to protect a cockfight and gambling operation in Waialua. Officer John Cambra IV is charged with hiding a cockfight gaff, and officer Barry Tong with illegal possession of a machine gun.
Reach Ken Kobayashi at email@example.com.