A federal judge on Thursday rejected a plea agreement that would have sentenced former Kauai County Councilman Arthur Brun to 15 years in prison on charges that he led a methamphetamine ring supplied by the United Samoan Organization, a gang that operates in and out of the Hawaii prison system.

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Brun was a sitting member of the Kauai County Council in 2020 when he was arrested on multiple felony charges that include distributing meth, firearms violations and assaulting a law enforcement officer.

Facing a maximum sentence of life in prison, Brun pleaded guilty last November as part of a deal that would have given him a 15-year prison sentence without the possibility of parole.

But U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson’s decision to reject the deal hammered out between the Justice Department and Brun’s defense attorney Rustam Barbee means that federal prosecutors and Barbee will need to come up with a new agreement that proposes a longer prison sentence — or Brun will be subject to a trial.

A new deal would be contingent on the approval of a federal judge.

Sentencing day for Katherine Kealoha outside US District Court.
U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson rejected a proposed 15 year prison sentence for former Kauai County Councilman Arthur Brun. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

“The judge rejected our agreement with the prosecutors and found that 15 years of a man’s life in federal prison was insufficient punishment for Mr. Brun,” Barbee said. “The government sought its pound of flesh, however, that was not enough for the judge.”

Brun, the former vice chairman of the Kauai County Council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee, was one of a dozen people arrested in February 2020 on multiple felony charges that include distributing meth, firearms violations, witness and evidence tampering and assaulting a law enforcement officer.

Arthur Brun was serving his second term as a Kauai councilman in Feb. 2020 when a federal indictment charged him with running a drug trafficking conspiracy. Kauai County

Dozens of special agents from Hawaii, Alaska and the U.S. mainland were brought to Kauai to work on the case.

They tapped Brun’s cell phone and gathered video and audio evidence. In all, officers seized four kilos of crystal meth, known locally as “batu” or “ice,” and thousands of dollars in cash from those involved.

In the months leading to the federal charges, Brun was arrested in October 2019 for allegedly assaulting a law enforcement officer who was conducting a traffic stop while acting in cooperation with federal officers.

Then, while out on bail in February 2020, Brun was involved in a traffic crash that injured a 6-year-old boy and a man after Brun crossed the center line and crashed head on into a truck.

Barbee has characterized his client as a methamphetamine addict and “a good person that made a bad mistake.”

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