HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The FBI has taken over a theft and bribery case involving multiple Maui police officers, Hawaii News Now has learned.
Anthony Maldonado and Chase Keliipaakaua were arrested last October and charged with bribery and hindering prosecution. Maldonado, a five-year veteran of the force, was also charged with theft.
Sources say he made contact with a citizen in Lahaina and asked to see his identification. That's when he allegedly took more than $1,000 in cash from the man.
Days later, Keliipaakaua, a six-year veteran of the force, allegedly tried to pay off the victim to withdraw the complaint.
University of Hawaii Law Professor Ken Lawson says the FBI coming in will eliminate any concerns about a conflict of interest.
"You don't want local police investigating local police," says Lawson, who believes the FBI are looking at a number of possible charges. "It could be for civil rights violations."
Sources say there is also a third Maui police officer connected to the case. A female sergeant has requested an attorney from the federal public defender's office as the case goes to a federal grand jury.
"This one investigation could expand and lead to numerous other investigations. That's not unusual," Lawson says.
Maldonado has since resigned from the department, but the other two officers remain on regular duty.
The FBI is working several other cases involving police officers.
Last week, former Kauai Police Lt. Karen Kapua was arrested for allegedly stealing $75,000 in federal grant money meant to make undercover drug buys.
And the FBI is currently investigating Honolulu's Police Chief Louis Kealoha in a civil rights and public corruption case. That case is currently being heard by a federal grand jury.