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Corrections officer from Pahala faces drug charge

A 58-year-old state corrections officer facing a felony drug charge made his initial court appearance Tuesday.

Ricky R. Espejo of Pahala appeared without an attorney. He was served a written complaint charging him with third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug and waived a formal reading of the charge, a Class C felony that carries a potential five-year prison term upon conviction.

Hilo District Judge Kanani Laubach referred Espejo to the Office of the Public Defender and ordered him to return for a preliminary hearing at 2 p.m. June 24.

He’s free on $2,000 bail.

According to police, Espejo, who is assigned to Hale Nani Correctional Facility, a minimum-security facility on the southern outskirts of Hilo, was pulled over by a Hilo patrol officer just after midnight May 2 because the pickup truck he was driving had a defective brake light.

Police say the officer also discovered the weight tax and safety check stickers on the truck were expired.

According to police, the officer saw drug paraphernalia in plain view, arrested Espejo and a 29-year-old woman passenger — identified in a police log as Krystal Kahalioumi of Hilo — and impounded the truck as evidence.

A search warrant was executed on the vehicle, and officers found paraphernalia items with methamphetamine residue, police said.

Kahalioumi was released from custody pending further investigation. To date, she has not been charged in this case but faces third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug and a felony resisting an order to stop charge in a case filed in January 2018 that is still active.

Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz said in an email Tuesday that Espejo, who has been with the department almost 23 years, “remains employed while the department investigates all allegations.”

“We are unable to comment further during the ongoing investigations, mindful that the individuals are presumed innocent until adjudicated otherwise,” she said.

Email John Burnett at
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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