Government charges two inmates for BOH, KFC and Pizza Hut burglaries
It's been13 months since inmates who were named as suspects allegedly broke out of the Tafuna Correctional Facility and burglarized Bank of Hawai’i, KFC and Pizza Hut; and the government has finally leveled charges against them.
The inmates Joe Leota and Ryan Pite, who were in jail serving time for prior criminal convictions, were served on Thursday with arrest warrants by Detectives with the Criminal Investigation Division. The lead investigator in this case is CID Commander Lavatai Ta’ase Sagapolutele.
Leota and Pite were scheduled to make their initial appearance in District Court on Friday, and both have been charged with two counts of first degree burglary, stealing, escape from confinement and property damage first degree, which are all felonies. If convicted the defendants are looking at serving 21 years in jail.
According to the government’s case, on July 6, 2012 Security Officer Lewis of the Bank of Hawaii Security Operation Center in Honolulu, Hawaii called the Central Police Station to report a break-in at Bank of Hawaii Tafuna Branch during the early morning hours.
Lavatai noted on his affidavit which supports the criminal charges that he was informed that police officers responded to the report of a break-in and entered the BOH building, where they observed two windows located on the west side of the building in the lunch room area were shattered and found two rocks in close proximity to the broken windows.
The court document states that chairs were stacked up beneath the broken windows and all the desk drawers and cabinets in the back office of the Bank of Hawaii were opened.
The government’s case claims that Bank of Hawaii had surveillance footage captured from July 6, 2012. CID Commander viewed the Bank of Hawaii footage and observed that the video showed debris appearing on a table inside the bank and the same surveillance footage also showed a rock on the floor.
Police were informed by the BOH Corporate Security Investigator George Yamamoto, that the infrared alarm on the bank's safe was triggered at 4:06am on the said date. “Internal surveillance video further showed a hand, denoting the presence of an unauthorized person in the bank counting room and a chair being moved around between 4:07 hours and 4:14 hours.”
According to the court documents the persons on the surveillance tape were wearing what appeared to be dark clothing while inside the bank. The damage to the BOH Tafuna Branch building caused by the break-in on July 6, 2012 totaled $1,146.50.
PIZZA HUT BREAK IN
Also on July 6, 2012, a Pizza Hut employee called the West Sub Station to report a break-in at Pizza Hut and upon arriving at the scene the CID Commander observed that the glass side door to the Pizza Hut was broken and shards of glass were strewn along the walkway to the door inside the restaurant. Cooking utensils were scattered throughout the restaurant.
The office doors inside the Pizza Hut were forced open and one of the cash registers was found in the men’s restroom, while a rock was found inside the building which was later determined to have been used to gain entrance through the side door.
Court filings say that the damage sustained to the Pizza Hut building as a result of the break-in on July 6, 2012 was $456.
KFC BREAK IN
At the Kentucky Fried Chicken building, police observed that the door to the office was pried open, freezers were left open, and the soda machines and ice cream machine appeared to have been damaged. Also the box containing donations to the Red Cross was taken from the front counter inside the KFC building.
The damage sustained to the KFC building as a result of the break-in on July 6, 2012 was $300. According to the government’s case, on July 17, 2012 a confidential informant (an inmate) informed the investigator Lavatai of a lead on possible suspects.
It's alleged the CID Commander was informed that a trustee at the TCF had allegedly used his position to gain the keys from TCF personnel, which is how Pite and Leota escaped, say court filings.
Court filings also state that on July 19, 2012 Assistant Public Defender Mike White submitted items such as a black and yellow flashlight, one cooking knife with a white handle, one white tank-top, two empty bottles of Coca Cola, and one green shopping bag with handles, and these items have been confirmed as property taken from the Pizza Hut / KFC building.
On July 20, 2012 an unannounced search of TCF’s Bravo Unit was conducted. The bravo unit is where Leota and Pite are housed along with the trustee who provided the keys.
At the shakedown, police uncovered a black bag labeled “K-sport." A grey hooded sweatshirt, a black and blue flashlight, a yellow screwdriver, and a green belt were retrieved from inside the bag. In addition, clothing was taken from the cell including a pair of grey jean shorts, a black shirt labeled “shaka” and an orange Zumba Maxwell DVD, which were later identified as items taken from KFC and Pizza Hut.
According to the government’s case Lavata’i spoke to the trustee Ofoia who said he was approached by Pite and Leota for assistance as they wanted to leave TCF for one night. It's alleged during the evening in question, Correctional Officer Rocky Tua unlocked the cell Ofoia was in and gave Ofoia the keys to the cell and Tua locked the cell after Ofoia exited the cell.
It's alleged Ofoia told police that at the insistence of Pite and Leota, he (Ofoia) gave the keys to Pite and Leota and he observed the defendants leave the cell. Ofoia then stated that he observed the defendants return to the Bravo building and he (Ofoia) approached the cell that Pite and Leota were in, and locked the cell door.
It's alleged that Ofoia told police that Pite and Leota told him that they hit the bank but had a hard time opening the safe. Court filings say that Ofoia further stated that Pite said they went to the Pizza Hut building, broke-in and grabbed flashlights, cash, a dvd player and a cooking knife.
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