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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, October 12, 2006

Teacher in 'ice' bust never had a drug test

 •  PDF: Read criminal complaint in teacher arrest case
Video: Leilehua High School teacher arrested on suspicion of meth distribution

By Ken Kobayashi
Advertiser Courts Writer

Lee Anzai

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Lee Anzai allegedly negotiated drug deals during school hours at Leilehua High in Wahiawa, where he is a special education teacher. Authorities say there’s no evidence showing drugs were sold on campus.

JOAQUIN SIOPACK | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Lee Anzai played baseball for Hawai'i Pacific University in the late 1990s. Authorities allege Anzai used ice in college, too.

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A Leilehua High School teacher accused of selling crystal methamphetamine allegedly set up drug deals while at school.

Lee N. Anzai, 29, a special education teacher who lives in Mililani, is believed to be the first Hawai'i public school teacher prosecuted on charges of selling "ice." He also allegedly admitted to an undercover officer that he smoked ice.

A Department of Education spokesman yesterday said that under DOE policy, Anzai was not required to undergo drug testing before being hired and there were no drug tests during his six years at the school. DOE policy does not require regular drug testing for employees except in special cases, the spokesman said.

Anzai was arrested late Tuesday night and charged with selling about 15 ounces of crystal methamphetamine to an undercover officer for $44,500.

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, when he attended Hawai'i Pacific University and played on its baseball team.

"I gotta smoke," Anzai is quoted as telling an undercover deputy sheriff in the affidavit filed in support of the charge.


Anzai is a former baseball player at Kaiser High School who was an honorable-mention selection on the state all-star team. He was recruited out of high school in 1995 to play for HPU.

He was arrested at the Longs Drug Store on Pali Highway about 11:55 p.m. and charged with selling ice to the officer on five different occasions in various parking lots — away from the Central O'ahu school — over a span of about a month.

But U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo said that for some of the sales, Anzai used a cell phone to set up deals while he was in his classroom or on campus. Kubo added there were no indications Anzai sold drugs to any students.

Authorities obtained a federal search warrant in the pre-dawn hours yesterday and searched Anzai's classroom before the start of the school day at Leilehua High to minimize the disruption to classes.

Federal prosecutors said that after Anzai was arrested, authorities found him in possession of a glass methamphetamine smoking pipe. A torch lighter, a gram scale and several plastic bags with residue that appeared to be consistent with ice were found in his car. A search of Anzai's Mililani home turned up a broken glass methamphetamine pipe, a scale, several marijuana "bong" pipes and a small amount of marijuana, according to federal prosecutors.


Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Kawahara said nothing was recovered from the classroom, but said Anzai was a "significant" dealer who had access to nearly a pound of ice that was sold to the undercover officer.

"As a teacher, Mr. Anzai holds a position of trust," Kubo told reporters at a news conference yesterday. By selling ice without any concern for the community, "Mr. Anzai has violated the public trust."

The five charges that Anzai faces carry sentences with a minimum of five years and up to life in prison without parole.

Kubo said if convicted, Anzai may face a stiffer sentence because of his position of public trust and also because negotiating the deals on campus will "weigh heavily" on the sentencing judge.

Anzai appeared in court yesterday afternoon, sometimes shaking his head and covering his face with his hands.

"Just be strong, babe," his wife, Sherri, told him from the gallery as he waited for the court to be convened.

"I love you," the wife said. "What's done is done, yeah?"

The Leilehua High School Web site lists both Lee and Sherri Anzai as special education teachers.

After yesterday's court hearing, Anzai's lawyer, Howard Luke, said it would be premature to respond to the charges. He said he will seek his client's release at a hearing tomorrow on the federal prosecutors' request to hold him without bail while his case is pending.

"He's very distraught," Luke said.

Luke said his client does not have a criminal record and has the support of his friends and family. Other relatives in the courtroom also expressed support for Anzai after the end of the hearing before he was escorted from the courtroom, but the relatives declined to comment as they left the courthouse.

"He's otherwise a very decent young man and I think we'll be able to communicate that to the court this Friday," Luke said.

Anzai is charged with five counts of selling ice to a deputy sheriff posing undercover as a drug purchaser in amounts ranging from an ounce to 5 ounces.

The sales were conducted at the parking lots of the Kamehameha Shopping Center in Kalihi, the Foodland at Waipi'o Gentry, the Russ K. Makaha Quiksilver Boardriders Club on Kapi'olani Boulevard and the Pali Longs Drug Store, federal prosecutors said.

The undercover agent paid Anzai $44,500 for the ice, according to prosecutors.

Kubo as well as other federal prosecutors, police and Department of Education spokesman Greg Knudsen said they were not aware of any other ice prosecution against a public school teacher. The public schools currently have about 13,000 teachers.


Anzai was subjected to a criminal background check prior to employment, Knudsen said. The check showed Anzai had no criminal record when he became a special education teacher, Knudsen said.

Because DOE policy does not require it, he was not given a pre-employment drug screen.

"Under some circumstance we can request an employee seek medical evaluation and drug testing if we have cause to suspect that a person's job performance might be affected by the use of illegal substances," Knudsen said.

There was no evidence that Anzai's performance had been affected, Knudsen said. He declined to say whether Anzai had ever been asked to take a drug test.

"I understand that he related well to the students and at one point was probably a very excellent teacher," he said.

Anzai has been placed on administrative leave.

Teachers and employees in the DOE do not need to undergo any regular routine drug testing, except for some special employees, such as bus drivers, who fall under the regulations of the Public Utilities Commission. Individual employees could be asked to take a test if there is reason to suspect the use of drugs is affecting job performance.

"People can be hired and disciplined based on nonperformance in a number of forms. Whether or not they are not performing based on the effects of some drug or lack of preparation or poor attitude — all those things don't necessarily require drug testing," he said.

He also dismissed questions about whether a mandatory drug-testing policy should be implemented.

"I don't believe it is justified at this point. We are talking about one individual among 13,000 teachers and presumably, if you follow that logic, it should apply to all DOE employers. So we're taking 20,000 to 30,000 individuals and it's not fair to cast all of them under some cloud of suspicion based on this one case," he said.

The Hawai'i State Teachers Association could not be reached for comment yesterday.


Last week, following the state auditor's finding that Kailua High School had failed to appropriately clear a number of coaches who had criminal records during the past three years — including one who had been convicted of murder — the DOE said it would verify that all public school athletic coaches statewide have had background checks.

The DOE continues to do those checks, and Knudsen said the DOE continues to examine the accuracy of the Kailua audit.

The prosecution's case against Anzai was outlined in a detailed 29-page affidavit by a federal Drug Enforcement Administration agent.


According to the affidavit, a confidential informant who owed Anzai a $3,000 drug debt provided the DEA with information. The informant later introduced Anzai to the undercover officer, a deputy sheriff 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 was really a teacher of if he was actually a cop.

Anzai is accused of selling ice to the undercover deputy two more times after that conversation.

Anzai lives at Apele Place in a quiet cul-de-sac of single-family homes and duplexes in Mililani.


Neighbors were shocked yesterday to hear of his arrest. They said Anzai and his wife were a pleasant couple who had recently had a baby.

"He seems like a good guy. He seems like a family man," said Jon Ferrell, who lives two doors down from Anzai. "I never saw anything weird there."

In addition to teaching special education, Anzai has served in various athletic coaching capacities since 2000, DOE spokesman Knudsen said.

Anzai's former baseball coach at HPU, Allan Sato, said he was "very shocked" by the allegations.

"Academically, he proved a lot of people wrong. I don't have anything negative to say about him," Sato said. "As far as drugs, I am shocked. Wow. I'm shocked."

Anzai was senior captain of the HPU baseball team in 1999.

"He was a team guy; he always wanted what was best for the team," Sato said.

He said Anzai was generally well-liked by team members and was popular among the general student body at HPU.

"He was no bully. He was not being Mother Teresa, either. But he was the kind of guy that tried to lead the team in the right direction," Sato said.

• • •


HHere are excerpts from a criminal complaint and supporting affidavit filed by a federal Drug Enforcement Administration agent in the case against Lee N. Anzai.

Anzai, a special education teacher at Leilehua High School, was arrested Tuesday night and later charged with selling about 15 ounces of crystal methamphetamine to an undercover state deputy sheriff on five occasions.

• Anzai allegedly first sold methamphetamine to an undercover deputy sheriff on Sept. 8. The sale was for 5 grams. He allegedly sold to the same deputy sheriff four other times: Sept. 14, 19, 29 and Oct. 10.

He was arrested at 11:55 p.m. Tuesday night after allegedly selling $12,500 worth of ice to the undercover officer. A methamphetamine pipe was found in his possession and assorted drug paraphernalia and cash was found in his vehicle, the complaint said.

• At 12:35 p.m. Sept. 19, Anzai took a phone call from the undercover officer, later referred to as UC, to allegedly set up a drug deal.

Anzai indicated he was on lunch break at Leilehua High School, and that "the bell going to ring in about 5 minutes."

The undercover officer joked that "make sure you're not late (for) the bell, uh?" and Anzai said, "No, no, no, I stay in my room; it's all good." UC asked, "You get your own classroom?" and Anzai said, "Yeah."

In the same conversation, Anzai also allegedly indicated he had 5 ounces in hand and could proceed directly to a meeting site to complete the drug transaction.

• On Sept. 20 at about 4:12 p.m., UC received a call from Anzai. Here is a transcript, from the complaint, of part of that conversation:

Anzai: Just wanted fo' ask you one question. My friend told me, you not one cop, eh?

UC: Crazy bull, what make you think that, brah? What's up with that, man?

Anzai: No, I tell you right now, my friend, I just talk to my friend, he said if we ask person that, they cannot lie.

UC: (expletive) beats me, brah

Anzai: Huh?

UC: (expletive), beats me, I don't know if that true or not.

Anzai: No, that's what he said. They can't use it in court, that's why.

Later, in the same conversation, the officer asks Anzai if he is who says he is.

UC: Maybe you not one school teacher.

Anzai: (Expletive) you, I show you my badge, cuz. I show you my badge, my (expletive) DOE, my DOE (expletive) badge, brah.

• At 10:26 p.m. Sept. 26, Anzai allegedly telephoned UC and told him about his own drug habit:

Anzai: You no smoke, uh?

UC: No, no, no, I no smoke. It's all about the business, it's all about the business.

Anzai: See, that's the smartest person, you know what I mean?

UC: Yeah.

Anzai: No, seriously.

UC: Yeah, that's what I hear.

Anzai: 'Cause that's what, ah, I cannot do. I gotta smoke.

UC: Oh, yeah.

• • •

UC: Yeah, but what about fo', da kine, for you, your, um, work? (Anzai's job as a teacher).

Anzai: What about 'em?

UC: They no check?

Anzai: Not yet. I keep it all good, I hope.

• • •

Anzai: (expletive), I been getting away with, uh, I been getting away with the drinking Clorox, cuz, how many years already.

UC: Fo' real, brah? You drink that?

Anzai: That's what I been doing.

• • •

Anzai: You don't drink it.

UC: What you do then? You just what?

Anzai: You put some (Clorox) on your fingah .... (Anzai goes on to explain the next steps in detail).

UC: It's all good to go.

Anzai: All my four years in college.

• • •

Excerpts from a Sept. 28 phone conversation, in which Anzai allegedly talks about the quality of methampheta-mine he's going to sell to the undercover officer for $3,000 an ounce.

Anzai: The stuff is deadly.

UC: The stuff is what?

Anzai: Deadly.

UC: The stuff is deadly? OK, I'll take your word for it.

Anzai: I tried 'em.

UC: You tried 'em?

Anzai: Yeah, I tried 'em.

Source: Criminal complaint, U.S. District Court for the District of Hawai'i

Advertiser staff writers Loren Moreno and Mary Vorsino contributed to this report.

Reach Ken Kobayashi at kkobayashi@honoluluadvertiser.com.

Correction: High school teacher Lee N. Anzai, who has been charged with selling crystal methamphetamine, was arrested late Tuesday night. A previous version of this story gave an incorrect day.