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Ex-Kauai councilman pleads guilty to leading meth ring

HONOLULU — A former elected official in Hawaii pleaded guilty Wednesday to leading a drug-trafficking organization while serving as a member of the county council on Kauai.

Arthur Brun told a U.S. judge he sold drugs to support his drug habit.

“I got no excuse. I take full responsibility for it,” he said via video from the Honolulu Federal Detention Center. “I’m guilty of all charges, your honor.”

Among the allegations laid out in court documents by prosecutors: Brun conspired with a gang leader, requested sexual favors as payment for drugs and assaulted a law enforcement officer.

As part of a plea deal, Brun and prosecutors agreed to a 15-year prison sentence. A judge has the final say on what his sentence will be.

Brun and 11 co-defendants were arrested last year. Most of the others charged in the case have also pleaded guilty.

If the case went to trial, prosecutors would present evidence including wiretaps and testimony of undercover officers and cooperating witnesses, Assistant U.S. Attorney Micah Smith said.

Brun’s defense attorney, Rustam Barbee, told The Associated Press after Wednesday’s hearing that his client was addicted to meth.

“Good people sometimes make bad mistakes,” Barbee said. “Arthur Brun for most of his life has been a good person.”

When Brun was arrested last year, he was vice chair of the council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee. His term ended in November 2020, while he was incarcerated without bail.

Smith described how in 2019, he assaulted a Kauai police lieutenant during a traffic stop.

The officer pulled over Brun after he got more than a pound of meth, Smith said. Brun sped off while the officer tried to remove the keys from the ignition.

Brun told U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson he threw the meth out of the window so that authorities wouldn’t find it.

Brun paid cash to purchase meth from a supplier on the U.S. mainland and the drugs were intercepted by authorities as they were being sent to Hawaii from California, Smith said.

Crystal meth, known locally as “batu” or “ice,” gained a stronghold across the islands long before becoming popular on the U.S. mainland. Mailing or shipping drugs to Hawaii became more common with increased airport security after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when it got more difficult to smuggle drugs through air travel.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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