Ex-Kauai police officer pleads guilty to federal theft offense

HONOLULU, Hawaii—Karen M. Kapua, 53, formerly a lieutenant of the Kauai Police Department, pled guilty in federal court to one count of stealing $25,000 belonging to the County of Kauai. The theft constituted a violation of federal law because the County of Kauai received federal grants of more than $10,000 annually, including grants from the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.

Florence T. Nakakuni, United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii, said that according to information produced to the court, Kapua admitted cashing a $25,000 check on Dec. 5, 2014, made payable to her by the County of Kauai, and earmarked for vice section operations, and converting the money to her own use. Kapua, in her former position as lieutenant in the Kauai Police Department’s vice section, was authorized to request County of Kauai checks to obtain money to make undercover purchases of narcotics.

Kapua was originally charged in a January 2016 indictment with stealing a total of $75,000 from the County of Kauai on three separate dates between Dec. 23, 2013 and Dec. 5, 2014, and with laundering the proceeds of one of the theft offenses by making a $11,457.98 wire transfer to pay off her debts. As part of the plea agreement, Kapua pled guilty to only one offense but agreed that she was responsible for the theft of a total of $75,000.

Kapua will face a term of imprisonment of up to 10 years, a fine of $250,000 and restitution when she is sentenced on Oct. 31, 2016 by Chief United States District Judge J. Michael Seabright.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of the Kauai Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Tong.

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