HPD officer accused of stealing firearms resigns from the force

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Honolulu Police Department officer accused of taking firearms turned in by citizens to be destroyed has resigned after HPD began investigating him earlier this spring.

HPD's records and identification division, right outside the entrance to the police department's Beretania Street headquarters, houses the firearms unit where people register their guns. Members of the public also turn in as many as 50 guns a year to the police department for destruction.

HPD began criminal and administrative investigations in March, after allegations surfaced of "firearms improprieties" by an officer assigned to the firearms unit, according to an HPD spokeswoman.  The spokeswoman declined to identify the officer in this or any other personnel case.

Sources said officer Francisco Lutu -- a nine-year HPD veteran assigned to the firearms unit -- was accused of taking guns that were supposed to be destroyed and trying to sell them on the side. Lutu has not been charged with any crime so far.

Sources said when Lutu was working at the firearms desk and somebody came in to turn in a weapon, he would tell his bosses he needed to go on a lunch break and then he would meet the person outside the office and try to give the person some cash so that they would give him the gun instead of turning it over to HPD to be destroyed.

HPD said Lutu's police powers were restricted in March, when his badge and gun were taken away during the investigation.  An HPD spokeswoman confirmed he resigned from the force in May.

HPD finished its probe and turned the results over to the prosecutor's office last week, according to a spokesman for City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro.

The officer could face a number of charges including theft, forgery, tampering with a government record and firearms registration violations, the prosecutor's spokesman said.

It's unclear how many guns the officer accused of stealing from the department and it is unknown whether he was able to actually sell any of them or whether he just wanted some of the guns for his personal collection.

(Brenda Salgado contributed to this report)

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