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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 21, 2006

Two Honolulu police officers plead not guilty in federal court

 •  Database missing 19 felony warrants

By Peter Boylan
Advertiser Staff Writer

Two Honolulu police officers indicted on charges they hid evidence and possessed an illegal firearm pleaded not guilty in federal court yesterday.

Officers John Edwin Cambra IV and Barry Tong were indicted April 6 based on evidence gathered during a two-year FBI investigation into allegations that police officers were protecting an illegal cockfighting and gambling operation in Waialua.

Neither Tong nor Cambra is alleged to have participated in the gambling operation or any of the activities connected to it. Their indictments allege unrelated criminal acts.

After entering their pleas before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie Kobayashi yesterday, both men were processed by the U.S. Marshals Service and released on $25,000 bond. Both are scheduled to go to trial June 20 and are on administrative leave from the department.

Kobayashi prohibited them from speaking with each other before the trial.

Joachim P. Cox, attorney for Tong, said Tong was not helping a gambling operation.

"As to the question of his involvement in any of the allegations of gambling, cockfighting, the drugs, Barry had absolutely nothing to do with it," he said outside court yesterday.

Sam King, attorney for Cambra, declined comment.

Cambra was indicted with his father, John Edwin Cambra III, after the pair allegedly tried to prevent FBI agents on June 21, 2005, from seizing cockfight gaffs from the family's farm during a search. Gaffs are sharp spurs put on the legs of fighting birds.

Tong was charged in a separate indictment with possessing an Israel Military Industries, Model B, 9mm carbine on May 24, 2005. FBI agents confiscated the officer's weapons, including the machine gun, after receipts taken from the officer's home during a search two months earlier indicated he had a large gun collection, according to authorities.

The FBI investigation began with allegations that Charmaine Moniz, a secretary who started working in the Honolulu FBI organized-crime and drug unit in 1999, was tipping off a drug distribution ring. Spinoffs from the investigation led to allegations that Honolulu police officers were protecting illegal cockfights and gambling operations on O'ahu's North Shore.

Charmaine Moniz's husband, Eric Moniz, also pleaded not guilty yesterday to allegations he helped possess and distribute more than a pound of methamphetamine. His trial date has not bee scheduled.

Reach Peter Boylan at pboylan@honoluluadvertiser.com.