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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Kaialau gets 20-year sentence

By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer

Organized crime figure Robert Kaialau was sentenced yesterday to 20 years in a federal "super maximum security" prison after he continued to protest his innocence and claim that he was recruited by Honolulu police to infiltrate criminal gangs.

Some two dozen relatives and friends appeared in the court of U.S. District Judge David Ezra to support Kaialau.

Many other supporters, including community and corporate leaders and active and retired Honolulu Police Department officers, wrote letters on his behalf, asking Ezra to consider releasing him on bail before and during trial.

In lengthy remarks to Ezra before he was sentenced, Kaialau, 38, said if he had been allowed bail, he could have found proof of his innocence.

He asked for leniency, telling Ezra he had performed his "civil duty" by helping police and that as a result, he has been labeled a "rat" and "viciously attacked" in prison.

"I am not a rat," he told the judge.

Medical problems that put him on crutches and more recently in a wheelchair have made him particularly vulnerable to prison assaults, Kaialau said.

In response, Ezra noted trial testimony from former HPD officer David Brown who denied that Kaialau had been recruited by the police and said that Kaialau had occasionally acted as a police informant.

The judge said there was "overwhelming evidence" presented at trial that Kaialau was guilty of the four violent racketeering charges against him.

"Mr. Kaialau's organization was a vicious blight on the community," Ezra said.

He said he will recommend that Kaialau serve his sentence at the United States Penitentiary at Marion, Ill., a "super max" facility where inmates are kept in solitary cells for 22-23 hours a day and allowed no contact with other inmates.

Ezra told Kaialau "there are individual cells" at Marion and it has its own medical treatment facility so that Kaialau will be both protected from other inmates and provided with medical care.

Court documents made public by Kaialau last year revealed that he is suspected of murdering Carlos V. Carrillo, a California man who disappeared from a Waikiki nightclub in 2000.

In an Aug. 23, 2007, letter, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Brady offered a plea agreement to Kaialau, according to those court records.

In return for his guilty plea to all charges in the federal racketeering case and "complete cooperation with law enforcement," the letter said, the government would agree not to seek a new indictment of Kaialau "related to the murder of Carlos Vicente Carrillo."

Kaialau, a former nightclub bouncer, was involved in an altercation at the Evolution Waikiki nightclub on the night Carrillo disappeared from there. No one has ever been charged with a crime in connection with Carrillo's disappearance.

Kaialau rejected Brady's plea offer and in November 2007 a federal court jury convicted him of the racketeering charges. Sentencing, originally scheduled for March, was delayed repeatedly, often at Kaialau's request.

Following the verdict in 2007, Brady said, "There is organized crime in Hawai'i," and he pledged that federal authorities "will confront organized crime and we will defeat it."

Brady said yesterday he could not comment further because a related case, the trial of Rodney Joseph Jr. and Ethan Motta, is scheduled to begin next month.

Those men are accused of running a criminal group that competed with Kaialau's organization to provide muscle for illegal gambling operations on O'ahu. Rodney and Motta allegedly shot and killed two men at the Pali municipal golf course parking lot as part of underworld jostling over gambling revenues.

Kaialau later owned a security guard company and drug-testing business and became actively involved in community issues.

He appeared at Neighborhood Board meetings and other public venues to urge closure of the city-operated landfill at Waimanalo Gulch.

Reach Jim Dooley at jdooley@honoluluadvertiser.com.