HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
A former Army reservist has denied scamming money from military families, which investigators familiar with the case say was used to fund a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old boy.
36-year-old Keoni Rosa, Jr. pleaded not guilty in federal court Thursday to one count of wire fraud and four counts of theft of government property.
Rosa, Jr. has been in custody at O'ahu Community Correctional Center since February, after he was indicted on charges of continuous sex assault of a minor.
Rosa, Jr. is accused of performing oral sex on a 6th grader on seven occasions inside several different Pearl City restaurant bathrooms. The 13-year-old boy told police Rosa, Jr. threatened to kill his family if he stopped and says he was also forced to send Rosa, Jr. nude pictures.
Court documents indicate Rosa, Jr. was a close friend of the victim's mother and reportedly took the boy places and bought him things.
Investigators familiar with the case say Rosa, Jr. was using the money he obtained through his ponzi scheme to purchase gifts for the victim.
Rosa, Jr. is accused of defrauding people out of more than $20,000, which he claimed was being invested in an entertainment venture in Las Vegas.
"Many of the alleged victims in the Keoni Rosa case were actually military people who knew and trusted Keoni Rosa, who had a distinguished record as a war veteran. I think in their minds this gave them a sense of comfort that their money was in good hands," said FBI Special Agent Tom Simon.
FBI officials say their case against Rosa originated out of their investigation of a prior Ponzi scheme involving Jason Pascua. 39-year-old Pascua was convicted of bilking investors out of $1.4 million last fall.
"Both Keoni Rosa and Jason Pascua were Army reservists at Ft. Shafter who knew each other. However, it's important to note that the allegations in this case were not that they were conspiring to commit fraud but that Mr. Rosa actually knew about Jason Pascua's fraud and used that to generate money for himself," said Simon.
Rosa, Jr. is also accused of writing worthless checks at the Navy Exchange using accounts, federal prosecutors allege, he knew were closed.
The 1995 Pearl City High graduate is being held on a $150,000 bond on the sexual assault charges at OCCC. He's scheduled for trial in September.
Rosa, Jr. is due back in federal court for a detention hearing August 4.
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