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    August 2018
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HPD Investigates Missing Evidence: Cocaine

In October 2017, both criminal and administrative investigations were initiated after it was discovered that cocaine recovered as evidence in 2014 was found to be lighter in weight than reported during its initial recovery.

The discrepancy was discovered when the evidence was being weighed in preparation to utilize a small quantity of the cocaine for training purposes.

The investigation quickly identified a sworn employee as being a person of interest for the missing portions of the drug.

The employee was immediately placed on administrative leave without pay and subsequent audits of other evidence recovered by the officer revealed other anomalies which revealed cases in which there was a weight discrepancy in marijuana concentrate (hashish) from two separate investigations. Those investigations had been suspended because there were no suspects.

The identified employee has since retired and is no longer employed by the county. The department has tightened up procedures in order to ensure a similar scenario cannot be repeated. The department has also conducted additional audits to ensure these incidents have not been committed by anyone else.

The criminal investigation which included consultation and collaboration with the Hawai‘i County prosecuting attorney’s office was formally referred to the prosecutor’s office for review on March 2, 2018. Because the investigation has been turned over to the prosecutor’s office, further comments regarding this matter will not be made.

Syringes Found at Soccer Fields Spurs Action

After Sen. Kai Kahele posted a picture of syringes found at Hilo Bayfront Soccer Fields on Facebook that he received from a friend, the County of Hawai‘i is taking action and Mayor Harry Kim is creating a task force to deal with the rising problem of needles being found throughout the island.

“A friend sent this to me yesterday, their kids had soccer practice in the afternoon…needles by the Hilo Bayfront Soccer Fields bathrooms,” said Sen. Kahele in a Facebook post.

The County of Hawai‘i is asking the public to report discarded syringes or needles to the Hawai‘i Police Department, while avoiding touching or handling the hazardous waste items.

An on-line form to report discarded syringes and needles has been created, to facilitate safe retrieval. The form is posted on the county’s website here.

The form is simple to fill out. People who find syringes or needles give the location and time of discovery. Information as to the person’s name and phone number is optional.

People who find syringes or needles may also call the police non-emergency number at (808) 935-3311 to report.

No one besides trained staff should touch or handle this hazardous waste, which could be drug-laced or infected.

The county is also developing a program involving the installation of “amnesty sharps disposal bins,” which are tamper-proof boxes for the disposal of syringes or needles.

The bins will be installed at public restrooms at parks and other facilities, similar to the receptacles found at airports in Hawai‘i where contraband fruit or meat can be disposed of without penalty.

For further information, call Leilani Maxera of the CHOW Project at (808) 852-3273.

HPD Continues Investigation of Kamuela Toddler’s Death

Hawaiʻi Island police continue to investigate the death of a 3-year-old boy, which occurred in the South Kohala District.

On July 25, 2017, at 7:18 p.m., police and Hawaiʻi Fire Department personnel responded to a report of an unresponsive 3-year-old male toddler, identified as Fabian Garett-Garcia, who was within a Kamuela residence.

Life-saving measures were performed on the toddler, who was transported to the North Hawaiʻi Community Hospital by medic personnel.

He was pronounced deceased shortly after his arrival at the hospital.

Detectives from the Area II Criminal Investigation Section responded to the scene and continued the investigation.

On Feb. 22, 2018, detectives received the results of the autopsy performed on July 27, 2017.

The pathologist determined the cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head and the manner of death is listed as undetermined.

The case remains classified as a coroner’s inquest; detectives continue to investigate the incident.

Police ask anyone with information regarding this investigation to contact Area II Criminal Investigation Section Detective Carrie Akina, via email at Carrie.Akina@hawaiicounty.gov or at (808) 326-4646, ext. 277.

Officers Learn Basic Sign Language

The Department of Public Safety (PSD) Sheriffs Division and Corrections Division, took part in a program to learn American Sign Language for Police and Corrections Officers, a course offered by All Hands on Deck.

All Hands on Deck. Courtesy photo.

This program helps to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the deaf and hard of hearing community. During this progressive course sheriff deputies, adult corrections officers (ACOs) and other PSD staff learned the basic skills needed to communicate with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing until a Legal Certified Sign Language Interpreter arrives.

During the classes, deputies, ACOs and other staff learned how to sign basic words and phrases, such as: yes, no, are you deaf, do you understand, I called an interpreter, police, help is coming and calm down. They also learned the hand gestures for license, registration, insurance and speeding, to name a few.

All Hands on Deck. Courtesy photo.

“This class was taught by deaf trainers and for some Deputies and ACOs, it was the first time interacting with the deaf community,” said Acting Training and Staff Development Administrator Marte Martinez. “The deputies, ACOs and staff acquired new skills that will benefit their community.”

All Hands on Deck worked with Department officials to explain the necessity of getting auxiliary aids/services into their facilities, as well as learning how to communicate with inmates and detainees who are deaf or hard of hearing.

TajaRay Ferland is the owner and training instructor of All Hands on Deck. Her program has taught sessions to law enforcement agencies nationwide.

“All Hands on Deck thanks the students for their enthusiastic participation and the Department of Public Safety for its progressiveness and diligence in its effort in continuing to advance technology and education for the Hawaiian community,” said Ferland.

Pedestrian Fatality in Kailua-Kona

UPDATE: A 50-year-old Kailua-Kona man died following a single-vehicle crash Thursday morning, March 1, on Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway at the intersection of Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park, Kailua-Kona.

He has not been positively identified at this time.

Responding to a 5:50 a.m. call, police determined that a 2006 Ford F-450 operated by a 64-year-old Kamuela man had been traveling south on Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway at the intersection with Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park when it was involved in a collision with a pedestrian who had been walking within the southbound lane.

The male pedestrian sustained critical injuries from the collision and was transported to the Kona Community Hospital where he was later pronounced ead at 10 a.m.

An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.

Police believe that speed and alcohol were not a factor.

Officers from the Traffic Enforcement Unit have initiated a Negligent Homicide investigation and are asking for anyone who may have witnessed the crash to call Officer Kimo Keliipaakaua at (808) 326-4646, ext. 229.

This is the fifth traffic fatality this year compared with four at this time last year.

ORIGINAL POST:

A pedestrian was hit by a car and died at the Queen Ka‘ahumanu Highway and Kaloko National Park intersection on Thursday, March 1, 2018.

Fire department units from Company 7 of the Kailua-Kona Fire Station responded to the accident involving a septic pumping truck and a pedestrian.

On arrival at 5:49 a.m., Company 7 found an adult female performing CPR on an adult male near the intersection of Queen Ka‘ahumanu Highway and the entrance to Kaloko National Park.

Personnel from Rescue Company 7 took over life saving efforts but were unsuccessful in their attempts to revive the male party.

The scene was released to Hawai‘i Police Department, which will continue investigation procedures.

Traffic was detoured around the area via Hina Lani Street and Kealakehe Parkway. It is unclear at this time if the victim was in the roadway when he was struck by the vehicle operated by an adult male.

The female performing CPR was not involved in the collision.

HPD is investigating.

HPD Confirms Identity of Body Found in Wailuku River

Hawai‘i Island police have confirmed the identity of a body that was found in the Wailuku River on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018 as 28-year-old Kelly Mrowinski, of Chicago.

Mrowinski and a male co-worker were swept into the Wailuku River by an apparent flash flood on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. The male was able to swim to shore, however, after an extensive aerial and land search, Mrowinski could not be located.

The Medical Examiner who performed the autopsy concluded the cause of death of “freshwater drowning” and ruled the death as accidental.

Public Shooting Range Approved on Hawai‘i Island

The State of Hawai‘i Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) voted to approve an area of land on Hawai‘i island as a public shooting range for the purpose of supporting the state’s Hunter Safety program.

Hunters have long sought an established area on Hawaiʻi Island for practicing hunting safety measures. Known as Mile Marker 16 on Saddle Road or “Morita Camp”, the relatively remote yet accessible area is considered a favorable place for people to improve marksmanship and practice the safe and responsible use of firearms.

Under Hawai‘i Administrative Rules, the BLNR can designate an area where activities related to target archery and firearms practice may be conducted. This designation will enhance safe hunting practices and improve conditions for the local hunting community.

A number of individuals and groups stepped forward to support the decision and volunteer assistance, and have expressed interest in developing this opportunity for the hunting community.

Hawai‘i Driver’s Licenses Must Have Gold Star After October 2020

On Jan. 16, 2018, motorists renewing their Hawai’i driver’s licenses began bearing a star in a gold circle, indicating that the license is in full compliance with new federal guidelines.

The Department of Homeland Security has mandated that all driver’s licenses used as identification to board flights and enter all federal buildings must bear the gold star by Oct. 1, 2020. Passports can be used as alternate identification to board flights.

To obtain the gold star driver’s licenses, which indicates the license is Real ID compliant, motorists must present the following documents to the Vehicle Registration & Licensing Division:

  • A U.S. State, Local Government- issued Certificate of Birth; or a valid U.S. Passport or Passport Card;
  • For married women who changed their names, a certified government-issued marriage certificate (showing name on birth certificate);
  • A Social Security card (unlaminated) showing current name;
  • Two documents showing your physical address (such as a HELCO bill). If you use a post office box number, submit one document with the post office box number and one document with your physical address.

Motorists may elect to get a limited-purpose driver’s license, which will not have a gold star, but which may only be used to drive.

For more information on acceptable documents, go online.

The County Division of Vehicle Registration & Licensing recommends renewing your license in the middle of the month when visiting Kona, Waimea or Pāhoa offices in order to avoid peak crowds at other times of the month.

No change is required at this time to currently valid licenses.

Officer Shot at Hawaiian Beaches Subdivision

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating an attempted murder after a police officer was shot in the Hawaiian Beaches subdivision in Lower Puna.

At 10:22 p.m., Wednesday evening, Feb. 21, officers were called to a reported assault on Oio Street.

As officers approached the suspect’s residence, a man at the residence fired a single gunshot at police, striking an officer in the lower extremities.

The officer, a two-year member of the department, was taken to the Hilo Medical Center where he remains in stable condition.

The department’s Special Response Team was on scene along with Crisis Negotiators who were attempting to communicate with the suspect.

The suspect was taken into custody at 7 a.m.

Police ask that the public avoid North Puni Makai Loop which is closed between Ono and Ohiki Streets as the investigation continues.

As is standard practice in any police-involved shooting, the police department’s Criminal Investigations Section will investigate the shooting, and the Office of Professional Standards will conduct an administrative investigation.

DOH Cites Water Company for HI-5 Violations

Screen shot of website

The Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) has cited Hawaiian Isles Water Company for delinquent reports and payments to the Deposit Beverage Container (DBC) program from August through November 2017. The company has complied with the department’s enforcement order and paid a $14,400 administrative penalty fee and the monthly amounts owed to the state.

Hawai‘i Revised Statutes §342G-105 requires beverage distributors to submit monthly distributor reports and payments to the DOH no later than the 15th calendar day of the month following the end of the payment period. Hawaiian Isles Water Company received multiple written notices reminding them of reporting and payment requirements prior to being assessed a penalty.

“Distributors can avoid serious penalties by responding to reminders from the state and submitting their payments and reports on time,” said DBC Program Manager Darren Park. “Late distributor payments and reports affect program funds and our ability to reimburse recycling companies for containers redeemed and recycled each year.”

Hawai‘i’s DBC program funds are used to recycle more than 600 million containers redeemed in the state each year. Through recycling, consumers are helping to remove beverage containers from the waste stream and reduce litter in the community. The program certifies independent recycling companies to operate Certified Redemption Centers (CRCs) statewide. CRCs provide Hawai‘i consumers with refunds of the five-cent deposit fee that is paid for eligible containers. Beverage distributors submit payments and reports to the program for all HI-5 containers sold within the state.

Woman Dies After ‘Jumping Into Traffic’ on Hawai‘i Island Hwy

UPDATE 11:47 a.m.: An adult female pedestrian died following a vehicle/pedestrian crash Tuesday night, Feb. 20, in Pāhoa.

Her name is being withheld pending positive identification and notification of her family.

Responding to a 9:40 p.m. call, police determined that a 2006 Ford sedan was traveling southbound on Highway 130 near Launahele Road when it struck the female pedestrian who was in the roadway.

The woman was taken to the Hilo Medical Center where she was pronounced dead at 10:31 p.m.

The driver of the Ford sedan, a 40-year-old Pāhoa woman, was not injured.

Police do not believe that speed or alcohol were factors in this crash. An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.

Police ask anyone who witnessed the crash to call Officer Clarence Acob at (808) 961-2329.

This is the fourth traffic fatality this year compared with four at this time last year.

ORIGINAL POST: Feb. 21, 2018

The Hawai‘i Fire Department reports that a female in her late 30s died after being hit by a car on Highway 130 (Pāhoa/Kalapana Road) around the 12 mile marker around on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018 around 9:42 p.m.

Upon firefighters arrival, they found the female unconscious and laying in the Hilo-bound lane and her boyfriend stated that they were both walking on the side of the road when the female launched herself into oncoming traffic.

The driver of the vehicle, who was uninjured, states she was driving at approximately 55 mph at time of impact. The sedan had moderate front end damage and a shattered windshield.

Traffic was detoured to Leilani Avenue while the investigation was ongoing.

Senators Call on Senate Appropriators to Respect State Marijuana Laws

Sens. Mazie K. Hirono and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) urged Senate Committee on Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to include provisions that require the federal government respect states’ laws regarding the regulation of marijuana when finalizing fiscal year 2018 appropriations. Congress has until Friday, March 23, 2018, to craft final fiscal year 2018 appropriations bills.

The majority of states, including Hawai‘i, have some form of reduced restrictions on marijuana. Recognizing this, under President Obama the Department of Justice has issued a series of guidance memoranda over the last several years outlining a federal law enforcement priorities that provided state and local governments and citizens a framework upon which citizens rely to establish legitimate businesses. However, on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018, the Attorney General rescinded this guidance.

The Senators wrote that rescinding years of guidance has created “disruption, confusion, and uncertainty throughout the country. Citizens who have been acting in good faith based on federal and state assurances now feel exposed. This disruption may deny medications to the sick, push individuals back into illicit markets, and nullify the previously-effective regulations – all while thwarting the democratically-expressed will of the states.”

“It is our hope that the fiscal year 2018 appropriations will alleviate the turbulence the Attorney General’s abrupt decision has caused and that the appropriations will help preserve the strong regulatory frameworks the states have created,” the Senators continued. “Doing so will provide the opportunity to pursue federal legislation that both protects the legitimate federal interests at stake and respects the will of the states – both those that have liberalized their marijuana laws and those that have not.”

The letter was also signed by Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Edward Markey (D-Mass.).

HPD Charge Man Wanted on Outstanding Warrant

Anthony Louis Gover

The Hawaiʻi Island Police Department has apprehended and charged a 58-year-old man who was wanted for an outstanding warrant of arrest for violating conditions of his release.

At 3:20 p.m. this afternoon, Feb. 13, 2018, Anthony Gover was arrested without incident at a business establishment in Hilo. He is currently being held without bail in the Hilo cellblock pending his initial appearance Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 14, in Circuit Court.

Police appreciate the public’s assistance for their calls on his possible whereabouts during that period.

This information was provided by the authorities. All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Plea Deal Offered to Man Facing 77 Years for Medical Marijuana Collective

A hearing held was held for Mike Ruggles, the man facing 77 years for attempting to start up a medical marijuana collective, this morning, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, at the courthouse in Hilo on Hawai‘i Island.

The hearing consisted of a Motions to Compel, a Motion to Dismiss Due to Prosecutorial Misconduct as well as a Frye Hearing, in which the state offered Ruggles a plea agreement.

The state of Missouri prosecutors offered Galin Edward Frye two deals while seeking his conviction for driving while his license was revoked, but his lawyer never told Frye about the offers. Frye pleaded guilty to a felony charge and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Frye appealed, saying his lawyer should have told him about the previous deals. A Missouri appeals court agreed. Prosecutors contend that not knowing about the deals they offered doesn’t mean that Frye didn’t know what he was doing when he decided to plead guilty.

Prosecutor Rick Damerville spoke to Big Island Now after the hearing and explained the process of the Frye Hearing and how it is pertinent to this case.

In a written letter from the prosecutors office, Deputy Prosecuting Damerville offered the following plea:

Dear Mr. Ruggles:
Re: State of Hawai‘i v. Michael Doyle Ruggles, CR. No 15-1-0391

Pursuant to Rule 11 of the Hawai‘i Rules of Criminal Procedure, and a recent suggestion by the Court, the State of Hawai‘ij makes the following plea offer in the above styled case:

  1. Mr. Ruggles may conditionally plead guilty of no contest (for civil liability reason only) to:
  2. Count 3, the lesser included offense of Commercial Promotion of Marijuana in the Second Degree (knowingly possessing marijuana (cannabis) having an aggregate weight of two pounds or more, in violation of Section 712-1249.5(1)(a), HRS; or
  3. Count 5, the lesser included offense of Promoting a Harmful Drug in the Second Degree (knowingly possessing 50 or more capsule, and/or tablets and/or dosage units containing one and/or more of the marijuana (cannabis) concentrates, in violation of Section 712-1245(1)(a), HRS; or
  4. Count 6, the lesser included offense of Commercial Promotion of Marijuana in the Second Degree (knowingly possessing, cultivating, and/or has under his control fifty or more marijuana plants in violation of Section 712-1249.5(1)(c), HRS);
  5. and stipulate the forfeiture of the evidence recovered in this case, unless the State agrees to the return of specified items of evidence; In return, the State will agree to recommend 30 months of probation pursuant to Section 706-622.5, HRS and expungement provided Mr. Ruggles complies with the terms and conditions of his probation.  The State reserves the right to ask for up to one year in jail as a condition of probation; further the parties agree that a PSI will be conducted in this case.  If the PSI writer recommends a lesser amount of jail, the State will concur with that recommendation.  The State Reserves the right for other reasonable terms and conditions of probation including drug testing.
  6. Further, Mr. Ruggles may condition his plea of guilty or no contest reserving in writing the right on appeal from the judgement, to seek review of the adverse determination of the specific pretrial motions listed below, and if Mr. Ruggles prevails on appeal he shall be allowed to withdraw the pleas: (1) An adverse ruling on Ruggles’ motion to quash the warrant filed on February 2, 2016; (2) An adverse ruling on Ruggles motion to dismiss for vagueness and/or on the grounds of entrapment and/or for constitutional violations filed on February 2, 2016; (3) An adverse ruling on Ruggles motion in limine no. 1 to assert the affirmative defense of medical cannabis at trial.
  7. Should Mr. Ruggles enter a conditional plea guilty or no contest as described above, the State will agree to stay any sentence imposed pending appeal should Mr. Ruggles elect to ask for a stay.
  8. If Mr. Ruggles accepts this offer by pleading guilty or no contest as described above and then pending sentencing, inexcusably fails to cooperate in the preparation of the PSI report, or commits a new crime pending sentencing, then the State will not be bound to recommend the sentence described above and can ask the court to impose any legal sentence including up to ten years in prision.
  9. As part of this plea agreement, the State will dismiss the remaining counts of the complaint.
    This offer will remain open unless withdrawn in writing before acceptance.

Thank you for your cooperation,
Very truly yours,
Ricky R. Damerville
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

HPD Identifies Man Found in Burnt Vehicle

The Hawaiʻi Island Police Department has identified the charred remains found within a burnt vehicle this past Christmas Day as that of 67-year-old Douglas Vernon Don of Kalapana. This identification was made via DNA.

At approximately 10 a.m. Monday morning, Dec. 25, 2017, police and fire units responded to a side road off 39th Avenue near Pōhaku Drive in the Orchidland subdivision to a reported vehicle engulfed in flames. After dousing the flames, firefighters observed burnt human remains in the vehicle. Investigators were unable to immediately identify if the remains are that of male or female.

Police have reason to suspect that this incident is related to evidence located at another property, also on 39th Avenue, but near Auliʻi Drive.

Detectives with the Criminal Investigation Section are continuing this investigation classified as a murder.

Anyone who may have information about this incident is asked to call the police department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Detective Kayne Keli‘i at (808) 961-2378 or Kayne.kelii@hawaiicounty.gov.

HPD Investigating Death of Peruvian National

The Hawaiʻi Island Police Department is investigating the death of a 23-year-old male Peruvian national who died in the waters off of South Point Landing.

Hawaiʻi Island Police received an 911 call concerning two distressed swimmers off of South Point Landing at about 2:09 p.m on Monday, Feb 5, 2018.

When emergency responders arrived, an HFD Rescue Diver was deployed and the man was pulled from the water. He was later taken to the Kona Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 7:25 p.m.

Police have opened a coroner’s inquest investigation.

Police investigating the matter determined that a 20-year-old female friend of the victim had been swept under a current while jumping off of South Point Landing, from an area commonly referred to as “South Point Cliff Jump.” The man jumped in the water to assist her and the two began to have difficulties getting to shore. The woman was able to get to an area where she could get out of the water. The man was not able to make it to shore.

Both visitors are from Peru. The victim’s name is being withheld pending notification of the next of kin.

The South Point area is a popular spot listed in several social media and tourist web pages; however, the area is not safe for jumping or diving into the water. Police are cautioning the public as warning signs are posted prohibiting jumping or diving into the water.

Interview with Man Who Faces 77 Years in Prison for Medical Marijuana Collective

Mike Ruggles is shown outside Hilo’s courthouse. Courtesy photo.

Fern Acres resident and medical marijuana activist Mike Ruggles will have a court hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, in the Hilo Third Circuit Court in front of Judge Nakamura. Ruggles is charged with running an “un-permitted medical marijuana dispensary” and is facing 77 years in prison.

After the police arrested Ruggles on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, the collective has since closed.

Ruggles daughter, Councilmember Jennifer Ruggles, posted the following to her Facebook account:

“Collectives are like farmers markets while dispensaries are like Walmarts for medical cannabis. I believe patients should options,” said Councilwoman Ruggles. “Come help support the man fighting so our island can have Collectives in addition to Dispensaries. Collectives are patient owned and supported, and support local patients and caregivers by allowing patients to transfer among themselves while Dispensaries are run by the rich for the rich,” she added. 

Supporters of Ruggles set up a crowd funding page where 70 people so far have contributed over $3,500.

Ruggles stated on Facebook, “I opened Hawai‘i’s first medical marijuana collective modeled after successful collectives in California, and we were raided a few months ago. While I’m facing 77 years in prison, this is an opportunity to set precedence for medical marijuana collectives in Hawai‘i.”

Big Island Now spoke to Ruggles at his house today in Fern Acres:

The following is a release that was sent to media following his arrest while he was still in jail:

Michael Ruggles, 58, a medical cannabis patient and activist who operates the Alternative Pain Management Pu`uhonua’s Collective out of his home in Fern Acres, was raided and arrested on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015.

Ruggles’ private medical cannabis collective provides a means for members to dispose of excess medical cannabis via transfer to other members who have also been authorized to use medical cannabis. Ruggles’ collective allows members to comply with the quantity restrictions set forth in Hawai`i’s medical marijuana laws and maintain an uninterrupted supply of safe medical cannabis.
The police served a search warrant and seized all the medical cannabis being cultivated on the property registered to multiple patients and caregivers, in addition to several Collective member’s excess medical cannabis in its various forms.

All business and tax records, members’ files containing protected health information, electronic devices, fine jewelry, professional music recording gear, other property resident firearms, his daughter’s college text book, a greeting card containing a personal message and some food were also confiscated from the collective. No property receipt was left by the police for the seized items.
Ruggles is being charged with 30 violations for allegedly operating an unauthorized dispensary even though the Pu’uhonua is operated as a collective. Bail has been set at $84,500.

The numerous collective medical cannabis patients who relied on the collective as a safe means to obtain their doctor approved medicine are now being forced to turn to the black market or go without.

The raid was based upon an undercover officer who presented a false doctor’s written certification that stated he was in the process of obtaining a medical marijuana card under an alias and was allowed to be processed as a member.

Under HRS 329 Medical Use of Marijuana Laws, conditions of use are defined and specify that patients must have a written certification under a physician to use medical cannibis and does not require the patient to register with the Department of Health and Department of Safety as a condition of use. It was under this premise, that the undercover officer was allowed to acquire medical cannabis according to a collective volunteer and member.

Ruggles’ is currently being held at a Hilo police cell block and his first court appearance is on Monday, Sept. 14, 2015 at 1 p.m. Friends who recently visited Ruggles say that he is in high spirits and prepared to defend the rights of medical cannabis patients to safely dispose and acquire medicine within the confines of the law.

Search Continues for Woman Swept Away in Flash Flood

The search continues for a woman that went missing during a flash flood in Hilo on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018.

The Hawai‘i Fire Department sent divers into the water near Pi‘ihonua Falls this morning, however, heavy rains created a danger for the divers as another flash flood could have happened at anytime.

The fire department suspended their search at Pi’ihonua Falls and moved their search down the river to the Boiling Pots area of the Wailuku River.

Officer of the Month: Officer Murray Toledo

The Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaiʻi recognized South Hilo Patrol Officer Murray Toledo on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, as the East Hawaiʻi “Officer of the Month” for December 2017.

Officer Toledo, a 12-year veteran with the police department, was honored for his “outstanding application of his investigative and interrogation skills” while investigating a theft case that occurred on the Big Island but stemming from a burglary that took place on Maui.

On Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017, Officer Toledo was assigned to a theft of services cases that occurred at a hotel on Banyan Drive in Hilo. It was reported that the suspect, after a stay at the hotel, attempted to use a stolen check to use as payment for his hotel stay. Officer Toledo was able to confirm that the suspect was a forme r employee of the business from where the check was stolen.

Officer Toledo also contacted the Maui Police Department and learned that the stolen check was taken during a burglary that occurred on Maui, and they were also investigating the series of stolen checks in their jurisdiction.

Officer Toledo arrested the suspect and obtained a confession, and he was subsequently charged with theft, forgery, and unauthorized possession of personal/confidential information. In addition, the suspect also confessed to being responsible for the burglary that occurred on Maui.

“Officer Toledo’s work ethic and exemplary application of his investigative skills are to be applauded,” wrote Lieutenant William Derr, who nominated Officer Toledo for the award. Lieutenant Derr added, “He is a prime example of how we hope all our police officers will conduct their investigations.”

As “Officer of the Month,” Officer Toledo is eligible for “Officer of the Year.

The East Hawai‘i “Officer of the Month” award is a project of the Aloha Exchange Club Hawai‘i.

Update on Hawi Standoff – Two Arrested

The Hawaiʻi Island Police Department is continuing an investigation which stemmed from a shooting incident in the Hawi area of North Kohala on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018.

Britney Wolf

At approximately 9:45 a.m., patrol officers responded to a report of a gunshot fired on a property located in the 55-3500 block of Alaalae Road in Hawi.

Officers determined that a 65-year-old male victim attempted to evict a 27-year-old male, identified as Lucas Wolf, and a 28-year-old woman, identified as Britney Wolf, from his property on Alaalae Road.

During the victim’s attempt to evict the couple, they exhibited aggressive behaviors towards the victim. As the victim retreated from the immediate area, Britney Wolf fired a single shot from a weapon. The victim was not injured, and he subsequently notified police.

Upon officers’ arrival, Lucas Wolf was located on foot and arrested for Terroristic Threatening in the Second Degree. Britney Wolf was located within a parked vehicle, however, she refused to comply with officers’ orders to exit the vehicle and made several statements which led officers to believe she was in possession of a firearm.

The department’s Special Response Team (SRT) responded to the scene and eventually, crisis negotiators were able to establish communication with the suspect who remained within the parked vehicle.

As this incident continued, the suspect fired two additional gunshots and as a result of one of the gunshots, the SRT’s armored vehicle, known as the BearCat, sustained damage.

At approximately 5:11 p.m., Britney Wolf surrendered to police and was arrested with no further incident of Terroristic Threatening in the First Degree.

Upon execution of a search warrant, detectives with the Area II Criminal Investigation Section recovered one shotgun, one rifle, one semi-automatic handgun, spent ammunition casings, and numerous rounds of unspent ammunition from within the vehicle the female suspect was located.

Lucas and Britney Wolf were transported to the Kealakehe Police Station as detectives with the Area II Criminal Investigation Section continue this investigation.

Alaalae Road was closed for the duration of the incident, however, has since been re-opened.

Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to contact police at (808) 935-3311, or Detective Jerome Manuel, via email at Jerome.Manuel@hawaiicounty.gov, or at (808) 326-4646 ext. 262.

This information was provided by the authorities. All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.