Teacher won't fight ice charge
By Peter Boylan
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Peter Boylan
A special education teacher and former Hawai'i Pacific University baseball player who allegedly sold more than $40,000 worth of crystal methamphetamine to an undercover Honolulu deputy sheriff will plead guilty today to a single count of selling the drug, his attorney said.
Leilehua High School teacher Lee N. Anzai, 29, believed to be the first public school teacher here to be charged with selling crystal methamphetamine, will plead guilty before U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright to a single count of knowingly and intentionally selling more than 15 grams of the drug, said his attorney, Howard Luke.
Anzai has no prior criminal convictions but admitted to using crystal methamphetamine dating to 1998, when he played for the HPU baseball team, according to court documents.
"He will be taking full responsibility for his conduct and we're hopeful down the road (that) the court will see he's very remorseful and quite a changed person," said Luke. "He always was a great guy but he had this problem that needed to be addressed. He taught special education. He spent his life helping children with special needs and there is no evidence to suggest his addiction was carried over into the classroom."
If convicted, Anzai faces a minimum of five years and up to life in prison without parole.
Assistant U.S. attorney Michael Kawahara, who is prosecuting the case for the government, did not return a call seeking comment yesterday.
Anzai was arrested Oct. 10 and charged with five counts of selling ice to a deputy sheriff posing as a drug buyer in amounts ranging from an ounce to 5 ounces.
For some of the sales, Anzai used a cell phone to set up deals while he was in his classroom or on campus although there are no indications Anzai sold drugs to any students, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
The undercover agent paid Anzai $44,500 for 15 ounces of ice, according to prosecutors.
The criminal complaint and affidavit filed in support of the charge against Anzai contain allegations he not only sold ice, but had been an ice user for seven to eight years — dating to 1998 or 1999.
"I gotta smoke," Anzai is quoted as telling the undercover officer in the affidavit filed in support of the charge.
Anzai was captain of the HPU baseball team as a senior in 1999.
According to the affidavit, a confidential informant who owed Anzai a $3,000 drug debt provided the Drug Enforcement Administration with information. The informant later introduced Anzai to the undercover officer, who used the nickname "Duke."
The affidavit quoted extensively from what it said were recorded cell phone conversations detailing negotiations.
In one cell phone conversation, Anzai asked the undercover deputy if he was a "cop," according to the affidavit. The deputy denied it, then asked Anzai if he really was a teacher or if he was a police officer.
Anzai is accused of selling ice to the undercover deputy two more times after that conversation.
Reach Peter Boylan at email@example.com.