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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, April 22, 2006

Two officers plead not guilty to conspiring

By David Waite
Advertiser Staff Writer

Two Honolulu police officers pleaded not guilty in federal court yesterday to charges that they conspired to aid and protect a Waialua-based cockfight and gambling operation.

Kevin Brunn and Bryson Apo were among more than 35 people who were named in a series of indictments returned by a federal grand jury earlier this month that resulted from a massive, two-year FBI investigation into alleged public corruption. The investigation was based largely on federal court-ordered wiretaps and also resulted in indictments against others for alleged extortion and distribution of illegal drugs.

Brunn and Apo were among five of the indicted defendants who entered not guilty pleas yesterday before federal Magistrate Judge Leslie Kobayashi.

Kobayashi set unsecured bail at between $25,000 and $50,000 for those who entered their pleas yesterday and scheduled a trial date of June 6.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Florence Nakakuni told Kobayashi that she will likely ask the court to declare the case "complex" due to the number of defendants and wiretaps that were involved, and that would likely delay the trial date substantially.

According to statements made in support of the requests for the wiretaps, the probe started when a confidential informant told authorities that an FBI secretary's home was being used as a "stash house" for drugs.

Assistant Federal Public Defender Alexander Silvert, who represents Apo, said he has yet to receive transcripts of the wiretaps that may have served as the basis of the case against Apo. He said the prosecution has 10 days to turn over those files after the defendants are arraigned in court on the charges listed in the indictment.

Silvert said Apo remains employed by the Honolulu Police Department and has been on paid leave for the past nine months or longer.

Attorney Richard Wurdeman, who represents Brunn, said his client "unequivocally denies the allegations against him."

Wurdeman said Brunn has been a police officer for 21 years and has been on administrative leave with pay "for most of the past year."

On Thursday, two other HPD officers pleaded not guilty to charges they hid evidence and possessed an illegal firearm. The indictment of officers John Edwin Cambra IV and Barry Tong was also part of the federal wiretapping probe. Neither is alleged to have participated in the gambling operation or any of the activities connected to it. Their indictments allege unrelated criminal acts. Both were released on $25,000 bond and they're scheduled to go to trial on June 20. They are on administrative leave from the department.

Cambra's father, John Edwin Cambra III, was also indicted on Thursday. The FBI alleges Cambra and his son 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.

In a separate indictment, Tong was charged with possessing an Israel Military Industries, Model B 9 mm carbine on May 24, 2005. The machine gun and other weapons from his collection were confiscated by the FBI.

Reach David Waite at dwaite@honoluluadvertiser.com.