Busy year for FBI Honolulu as they seek another successful year in 2023
News Release from Special Agent in Charge Steven Merrill, FBI Honolulu Division, Dec 23, 2022
The Honolulu Division of the FBI encompasses the entire state of Hawaii, Guam, Saipan, and American Samoa. The geographical region is one of, if not the largest, areas of responsibility in the FBI. Over the last year, we’ve seen great success spearheaded by the dedicated professionals who make up our workforce. This includes our task force officers and other key partners, who are instrumental in helping us complete the mission of safeguarding the American people daily. The FBI is proud to work together with our local, state, and federal partners to serve and protect our neighborhoods.
This year, we have successfully investigated public officials on Maui and Oahu for corruption, obtained convictions for civil rights violations, and secured indictments for fraud cases, one for more than a $2 million loss alone. Additionally, we’ve made progress in the investigation of cyber-attacks and in protecting our nation’s secrets. Although much of our work cannot be discussed publicly, many success stories from this year deserve recognition.
As a result of a complex FBI investigation, a former Maui County Environmental Management Official was charged with operating a long-running bribery scheme. The official faces at least ten years in federal prison. Furthermore, the Honolulu FBI Division’s efforts resulted in the conviction of a former Hawaii Senate Majority Leader. The former politician accepted multiple bribes for performing and agreeing to perform official legislative acts on behalf of a local businessperson. Public corruption is a top priority for the FBI and this office, and we will continue aggressively pursuing these allegations at every level. Public corruption tears at the fabric of our communities. Elected and appointed officials are entrusted and expected to protect the interests of the American people with integrity. When that trust is betrayed, our government’s security and stability are at risk.
Next year, we expect two men from Maui to be sentenced for their role in a hate crime. After an FBI investigation, they were convicted for a racially motivated attack on a white man. FBI Honolulu collaborated with The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to secure these convictions. We also worked with the Civil Rights Division in an investigation into three former Hawaii Correctional Officers who assaulted an inmate and tried to cover it up. Those efforts also ended with convictions. These cases are examples of the commitment of the FBI to protect everyone from civil rights violations.
Stopping violent crimes and crimes against our keiki are critical to the FBI’s mission. In 2022, in partnership with our state, local, and federal counterparts, we saw the conviction of a former Maui police officer for attempted child enticement. In addition, a former Honolulu law enforcement official was arrested for sex crimes against children. Similarly, we charged an Oahu school teacher with exploiting minors. On Guam, the FBI led investigations resulting in the convictions of an Army National Guard Soldier and a former U.S. Navy Sailor for similar offenses. Investigations like these are vital to keeping our children safe, but they also show the importance of working with our law enforcement partners and those in the community. We need these relationships to remain successful.
Exhaustive and diligent efforts by the FBI on Guam ended with a bank and identity fraud conviction this year. The man responsible was sentenced to 82 months in federal prison and ordered to pay thousands of dollars in restitution. Another investigation headed by our Guam Office helped secure the conviction of a bank robber. A federal judge sentenced him to 70 months. These are just a few examples of the great work of our Guam employees and reinforce the FBI’s promise to protect the people of Guam and Saipan.
Counterintelligence investigations and protecting the American people from our adversaries is a critical mission of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is of particular importance to us given the sizeable Department of Defense footprint in our Area of Operation.
As the result of a substantial FBI and NCIS investigation, a government employee at the United States Indo-Pacific Command was convicted of mishandling classified information. Although cases like these may seem insignificant, mishandling our nation’s secrets has the potential to put not only our national security at risk but also our lives. The Special Agents, Intelligence Analysts, and professional staff who work in this arena often go unrecognized. This case is an opportunity to acknowledge their efforts publicly.
Other examples of success include an investigation into the January 6th violence, illegal game rooms, organized crime, drugs, fraud scams, and many other sensitive or ongoing cases. However, the continued dedication and hard work is not unnoticed.
I am very proud of our efforts in 2022 and look forward to 2023. I know the FBI Honolulu Division and all our partners, particularly the U.S. Attorney’s Office and all our federal, state, and local counterparts, will continue to deliver results for the entire region and the American people.