- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 19, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - A former Kauai police lieutenant pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing federal grant money from the department.

Karen Kapua, who was a 16-year veteran of the Kauai Police Department, pleaded guilty to embezzling, stealing and misappropriating $25,000 in grants, including grants from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. As part of a plea deal, prosecutors agree to dismiss other charges in an indictment, including money laundering.

She stole a total of $75,000, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence Tong said. Defense attorney Brook Hart said his client has paid full restitution.

The amount and Kapua’s abuse of a position of trust will affect her sentencing guidelines, Tong said. She faces up to 10 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 31.

Kapua said she was commander of the vice unit in December 2014 when she cashed a $25,000 check and deposited some of it in her personal account.

She had access to money that was supposed to be used for operational purposes, such as making undercover drug purchases.

Kapua told U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright she didn’t use it for operations purposes, or keep it in a safe at the department. “It’s pretty vague to me but I do recall making a requisition,” she said.

When Seabright asked her about her mental state before she pleaded guilty, she told him she’s taking prescription medicine, including medication for depression. “I’m still depressed, but I can think clearly,” she said.

Hart said that while she was a lieutenant, she dealt with health issues and the sudden death of her daughter.

The department is grateful for the positive impact she made during her career, Chief Darryl Perry said in a statement.

“It is unfortunate that those accomplishments will be overshadowed by this incident,” he said. “I am hopeful that the public will view this as an isolated incident and not a reflection of the department as a whole.”

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