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Two Honolulu police sergeants and two officers accused in an overtime pay scandal had their cases dismissed on Monday after a Circuit Court judge ruled that their rights to a speedy trial had been violated.
Judge Edward Kubo on Monday dismissed cases against Honolulu Police Department Sgts. Duke Zoller and Aaron Bernal, and against officers Christopher Bugarin and Patrick Bugarin.
They were among seven charged in the case. Five subordinates were accused of falsifying reports claiming the two sergeants had worked at DUI roadblocks. Prosecutors contend the sergeants had the night off1.
Right to Speedy Trial Violated
Kubo heard motions Monday by the attorneys representing Zoller, Bernal and the Bugarins to dismiss the cases based on Rule 48 of the Hawaii Rules of Penal Procedure. That rule states that a case can be dismissed by the court “if trial is not commenced within 6 months (180 days).”
In Zoller and Bernal’s cases, the judge determined 185 days had lapsed. And in the Bugarins’ cases, 192 days.
“Sometimes the judicial system falls behind; that’s no excuse for us,” Kubo said.
He dismissed all four cases. He said: “The court will take — with prejudice or without prejudice — under advisement, and come out with a ruling at a later time.”
City May be Able to Refile Charges
Whether the cases are dismissed with or without prejudice will determine if city prosecutors can refile the charges. If they are dismissed without prejudice, prosecutors can refile the case.
“The court needs to review all the facts of this case and will be issuing a written decision with regard to Sgt. Zoller if this case is dismissed with prejudice or without prejudice,” Kubo said. He ruled similarly in the other three cases.
Kubo noted that the prosecutors and defense attorneys are “free to file any more paperwork” within the next week.
Following the hearings, city prosecutor Peter Marrack, who represented the city in all six cases, said he had no comment as the cases are still pending.
Zoller had faced three charges of tampering with a government record and two charges of theft in the third degree — both misdemeanors — according to court records.
Bernal faced nine charges of tampering with a government record and two charges of theft in the third degree. Patrick Bugarin was charged with three counts of tampering with a government record. Christopher Bugarin was charged with two counts of tampering with a government record.
Earlier this month, HPD officers Leighton Kato and Michael Krekel were found not guilty in separate jury trials.
Kato faced two counts of theft in the third degree, and one charge of tampering with a government record. Krekel faced two charges of tampering with a government record. A seventh officer, Brian Morris, pleaded guilty in March to tampering with a government record.