Maui Police Officer Facing Federal Charges For Robbing a Citizen During Traffic Stop

Anthony Maldonado

A former Maui Police Department officer is facing federal charges alleging he stole money from a man during a traffic stop two years ago and conspired with others to bribe the victim to withdraw his theft complaint.

Anthony Maldonado, 28, of Pukalani was arrested Thursday morning on an indictment handed down Nov. 9 by a federal grand jury.

During his arraignment Thursday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Honolulu, Maldonado pleaded not guilty to deprivation of rights under color of law, conspiracy to commit witness tampering and engaging in misleading conduct.

He was released on a $50,000 bond.

Maldonado, who is also known as Ikaika, was working as a Lahaina patrol officer when he made the traffic stop Sept. 30, 2015, and stole about $1,800 from the driver, according to court documents.

The indictment alleges that from Oct. 10 to 15, 2015, Maldonado and others, including two other police officers, participated in trying to bribe the driver so he would falsely report to the Police Department that he had found his missing money and would withdraw his theft complaint against Maldonado.

Maldonado’s wife obtained $4,500 in cash from a relative and provided some of the money to Maldonado to use for a bribe, according to the indictment.

The indictment alleges that Maldonado communicated with officer Chase Keliipaakaua about the bribery plan on Oct. 13, 2015, and later that night met with police Sgt. Walter “Kepa” Ahuna and Damien Kaina Jr. to discuss the plan. Ahuna reportedly agreed to pick up his cousin Kaina after he offered the bribe to the victim on behalf of Maldonado on Oct. 13, 2015.

The next day, while he was working at the Lahaina police station, Keliipaakaua repeatedly texted Maldonado to say that the victim hadn’t shown up at the police station to withdraw his complaint, according to the indictment. At Maldonado’s request, Keliipaakaua called the victim and told him “to go to the police station soon,” according to the indictment.

After calling the victim Oct. 14, 2015, Keliipaakaua texted Maldonado to relay that the victim still hadn’t show up at the police station, the indictment alleges. Maldonado texted Kaina, who texted back offering to call the victim, then called the victim’s phone number, according to the indictment.

Maldonado also called the victim’s phone number several times on Oct. 14, 2015, according to the indictment.

The indictment alleges that Maldonado made false statements during an interview with Maui police detectives, saying he didn’t take money from the victim and saying that another officer was alone near the victim’s wallet during the traffic stop.

Keliipaakaua and Maldonado’s wife, Kelsey Maldonado, are scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday, according to court records. Both are charged with conspiracy to commit witness tampering.

In addition, Keliipaakaua is charged with destruction, alteration or falsification of records in federal investigations. The indictment alleges Keliipaakaua “knowingly altered, destroyed, concealed, and covered up” text messages between him and Maldonado from Oct. 14 to 21, 2015.

Police said Maldonado, who had been a police officer for about five years, was placed on unpaid leave before resigning from the Police Department.

Ahuna, who had been a police officer for nearly 15 years, resigned this year. He and Kaina are awaiting sentencing in federal court after each waiving indictment and pleading guilty to tampering with a witness.