Ex-MPD officer pleads guilty to soliciting sex in exchange for providing false testimony
HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Former Maui County police officer Brandon Saffeels pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to seven counts of honest services wire fraud, admitting that he solicited sex from a woman he arrested in exchange for providing false testimony in her trial.
The charges relate to a July 2019 case in which Saffeels, 36, inappropriately contacted a woman he had arrested hours earlier for suspicion of DUI.
Hawaii News Now broke the story in the days after the incident because the woman ― who did not want her name used for the story ― was too afraid to report it to the Maui Police Department. She instead provided the text messages and audio recordings to HNN, which were read in court Wednesday by prosecutors.
The first, sent on July 25, 2019, read: “Hey. How u doing.”
The woman replied: “Hi who is this?” The next text: “Brandon.”
The woman said she was not friends with him, not even acquaintances. Saffeels was a neighbor of someone she knew.
She was surprised when he made the offer in a subsequent text, “I will f*** up my testimony so that u get off.”
She asked him to call her and she recorded the call which became a key piece of evidence against Saffeels.
After our story aired, the Maui Police Department launched an investigation.
MPD issued this statement at the time:
The Maui Police received information from Hawaii News Now regarding a potential abuse of authority within the Department. Following up on that information the Criminal Investigations Division was able to obtain text messages and voice recordings that support the allegations made against one of its officers.
MPD eventually turned over the evidence to the FBI and Saffeels was indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2020.
In court, Saffeels admitted that he wanted to have a sexual relationship with the woman.
The woman said she broke down and cried.
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“It’s an emotional day for me,” she said, “I’ve been waiting for this for years.”
The woman said she had feared no one would believe her.
But after she came forward, several other women followed, including another Maui woman who had actually reported Saffeels to MPD a year earlier.
That woman made an official complaint with Internal Affairs in 2018. Saffeels was the responding officer when she called 911 to report an assault. Inappropriate text messages followed.
MPD said that Saffeels was disciplined for that incident and then put back on the streets.
“For me, I’ve lost trust in them,” said that woman who feared calling 911 again.
Two more women have also come forward.
One has selfies Saffeels sent to her, some in uniform, others where he is partially clothed.
Attorney Michael Green represents all the women.
“It’s hard to get your mind around that he was on patrol and the other thing that’s so hard to get your mind around this county knew about it,” said Green.
Saffeels is scheduled to be sentenced in October. Each count of honest services wire fraud, carries a penalty up to 20 years in federal prison.
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