Hawaii Cop Admits to|Pot-Growing Conspiracy

     HONOLULU (CN) – A Honolulu police officer pleaded guilty to a marijuana-distribution conspiracy in federal court, hoping his cooperation gets him a commuted sentence.
     The charges stem from a Drug Enforcement Administration raid earlier this year on the residences of Officer Michael Steven Chu and his girlfriend, Athena Sui Lee.
     Chu pleaded guilty Thursday afternoon to growing 48 marijuana plants in his home. Chu admitted that he planned to distribute 49 pounds of the plants.
     Lee had 14 pounds of marijuana shipped from California to Chu’s apartment on Young Street in Honolulu last year, according to the plea.
     Chu admitted that he ran a grow operation with Lee at 1296 Kapiolani Boulevard, and that DEA officers seized a FedEx package sent to that address containing seven juvenile marijuana plants.
     Further searches of the apartment and Chu’s Toyota 4-Runner revealed “in excess of 20 marijuana plants in the master bedroom” and another pound of processed marijuana, according to the plea.
     Chu and Lee entered their apartment during the search, “carrying fertilizer and plant nutrients,” the agreement further states.
     After learning that Chu had applied for a medical marijuana card using an address on Puneki Street in Mililani, agents discovered a second grow operation there and 12 additional plants at that residence.
     “On April 10, 2012, DEA task force officers seized a shipment at Honolulu Freight Service that was arranged by Athena Sui Lee to be sent from San Francisco, California to Honolulu,” the plea states. “The task force officers discovered 30 pounds of marijuana inside the shipment that the defendant and Lee intended to distribute in Honolulu, Hawaii.”
     With Chu’s plea of guilty to the charge of conspiracy to distribute, prosecutors agreed to dismiss five related counts. Chu may be sentenced by either a judge or a 12-person jury.
     He faces up to five years imprisonment, a maximum $250,000 fine and supervised release.
     The conditions of Chu’s bail release limits contact with Lee to phone conversation not pertaining to the case.
     At a hearing on Monday, the court said Chu can return to the Honolulu Police Department to comply with union requirements.
     “Before the defendant engages in actual job duties at HPD, he agrees to notify Pretrial Services to see if another bail review hearing is needed to address any employment concerns with HPD,” according to the minutes of that hearing.
     Chu’s house detention confines him to the home “at all times except for employment, education, religious services, medical, substance abuse or mental health treatment, attorney visits, court appearances arrest.”
     The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Hawaii and the Drug and Organized Crime Section prosecuted the case.

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