A federal corruption probe targeting several Maui police officers has netted its first guilty plea.
Sgt. Walter “Kepa” Ahuna, 35, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Honolulu Federal Court to a single count of conspiring to commit witness tampering.
Ahuna, a 15-year MPD veteran, admitted that in October 2015 he gave a ride to a fellow police officer — his cousin Damien Kaina — so that Kaina could allegedly bribe a witness.
That witness had accused a third officer, Anthony Maldonado, of stealing $1,800 from him during a routine traffic stop, according to complaint by federal prosecutors.
Ahuna’s attorney Myles Breiner said his client initially tried to talk Kaina out of offering the bribe, saying it was illegal. But federal prosecutors said Ahuna eventually drove his cousin to the witness' house, where the alleged bribe was offered.
Ahuna is still employed by MPD but is on leave. Maldonado was fired last year.
By reaching a plea deal, Ahuna will likely be sentenced to less than the 20-year maximum prison term.