Another Maui Police Officer, Pleads Guilty to Sex Extortionin
June 03, 2011 | 07:18 PM
May 30, 2011 Kristopher Galon, decorated by the Maui Police Department for heroism in 2004, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Thursday to felonies committed while on duty in Lahaina in 2007 and 2008.
He was charged earlier this month by District Attorney Florence Nakakuni with two counts of depriving a person of rights under color of law.
In one case, he stole money from a driver at a traffic stop, according to his plea agreement. In the other, he extorted a sex act from a woman who had been jailed after another officer arrested and robbed her.
The other officer, Steven Gunderson, pleaded guilty in April to charges of theft and evidence tampering.
Both were fired from the Maui Police Department. Galon has been sued for damages by the woman, and a jury trial is scheduled before 2nd Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza next year.
In 2004, Galon was dispatched to Hansen Road, where there had been a serious auto crash.
According to a police report, an SUV had rolled four times and the driver was unconscious inside. Galon was unable to open the door but had crawled partly inside the cab to check on the driver when the engine exploded.
He was knocked back, but recovered and managed to haul the man out. Galon was awarded the Silver Medal of Valor and credited with saving the driver from severe injuries or death, because the fire spread to the cab.
Galon suffered a minor concussion but was back on patrol three hours later. At the awards ceremony, he said, "We were busy that night, and everybody was getting slammed. I would have felt bad going home."
He added, "guess that's every officer's dream - to go and save somebody's life. This is what every officer goes out every day to accomplish. It feels good."
Galon had been on the police force at that time for three years.
According to the court information, on Nov. 10, 2007, Galon stopped a driver for a traffic violation. In his plea, he admitted that he grabbed the man's wallet, which had $1,561 in cash, and kept $1,550.
He returned the wallet and warned the driver not to drive because he was in the country illegally.
The second offense, on the night of Aug. 17, 2008, was described in a lawsuit against the officers, the county and the police department by attorney David Sereno. He alleged that his client, Tracy Motelewski, and an unnamed man were at Puamana Park when Galon and Gunderson approached her car while her companion was in the restroom.
Both were in uniform and on patrol.
Galon allegedly searched the vehicle and a bag in the trunk, finding a container of white powder. He then, Sereno alleged, took Motelewski's purse containing $500 and a ring. They then took Motelewski to the lockup at the Lahaina Police Station, while her companion drove off in her car.
She was released about 5 a.m. the next day, but her purse was not returned, and she began to walk home.
According to the suit, Galon, still on patrol, offered her a ride in his patrol car but pulled up in a parking lot near Puukolii Road.
He then "crudely stated that he would destroy (a) pipe seized" if she would perform a sexual act on him. After she did, the civil suit says, he drove her to her neighborhood and dropped her off.
Later, the suit says, she got anonymous threatening calls.
The lawsuit alleges negligent supervision and training of the officers by the police department.
In February, the Maui County Council authorized settlement negotiations with Motelewski on behalf of the department. The county is not defending Gunderson or Galon.
In April, Gunderson, 33, pleaded guilty to charges that he stole cash from Motelewski and threw away a suspected drug pipe.
He at first pleaded no contest to the charges of second-degree theft and tampering with physical evidence and was asking for a chance to keep convictions off his record.
But last month he pleaded guilty and told Cardoza he wouldn't seek a deferral that could have led to the charges being dismissed if he complied with requirements of probation.
Cardoza asked Gunderson whether he knew he would be a convicted felon and could face "collateral consequences." The judge also noted that guilty pleas might be used against him and the Maui Police Department in the civil suit.
He is scheduled to be sentenced July 19.
In his appearance in U.S. Magistrate Court, Galon, 37, admitted both the theft and the sexual assault. He is to be sentenced in September.
He faces up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
He also agreed to pay restitution in an amount to be determined.
He was allowed to remain free on an unsecured signature bond.
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