Maui officer who solicited sex in exchange for throwing his testimony is sentenced
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Former Maui Police Officer Brandon Saffeels will serve 30 months in federal prison for soliciting sex in exchange for throwing his testimony at trial.
U.S. District Court Judge Leslie Kobayashi said Saffeels abused his power as a police officer and took advantage of a vulnerable victim.
That victim: a Kahului woman who he arrested on July 25, 2019.
“Am I still scared? Very. Do I worry about retaliation still? Yes,” said the woman, who did want to be named. She testified at Saffeels’ sentencing hearing Wednesday, breaking down several times.
Kobayashi told her to take her time and reassured her that she would not be rushed.
The woman is a single mother, and said she felt trapped and intimidated by the officer who started sending her text messages shortly after her arrest.
In the exchange of messages, he invited her to his house and then wrote, “I will f*** up my testimony so that u get off.”
In August 2019, the woman came forward to Hawaii News Now to report the crime, saying she was too afraid to report it to the Maui Police Department. She felt it would be covered up by his fellow officers.
The story launched a criminal investigation and more women started coming forward.
A total of four of them are now suing MPD.
Attorney Michael Green represents some of them.
“These women were emotionally in terrible, terrible shape,” Green said, adding that every time they saw a police car behind them they feared retaliation.
Saffeels, who had pleaded guilty to charges of honest services wire fraud, apologized to the woman in court. He also apologized to the judge.
The federal guidelines suggested a sentence of between 24 and 30 months. Kobayashi imposed the toughest sentence with two years supervised release.
The victim said she was satisfied with that and added that testifying helped her emotionally.
“I do feel like I’ve gotten a little of my power back. I feel like I can breathe again,” she said.
“I just encourage everyone else out there going though something like this to take a stand. Be brave. You’re not alone.”
Saffeels was ordered to self surrender on Jan. 7, 2022. He will serve his time at a prison in Oregon.
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