Inmate Val Ofoia charged with aiding prisoner escape which led to burglary
The inmate who allegedly used his position as a “trustee” to obtain keys from Tafuna Correctional Facility personnel — thereby opening gates for other inmates to leave the jail — has been charged. Val Ofoia is facing one count of aiding and abetting, a class D felony punishable by up to five years, a fine of $5,000 or both. Ofoia made his initial appearance in District Court yesterday morning.
The inmates who broke out of jail are Ryan Pite and Joe Leota. The pair burglarized Bank of Hawai’i, KFC and Pizza Hut midsummer 2012, and have entered guilty pleas before the court.
According to the government’s case in the matter of Ofoia, police officers investigating the burglary of Bank of Hawai’i, KFC and Pizza Hut, were tipped by a confidential informant that Ofoia was the one who had provided the keys to Pite and Leota, which enabled them to leave their cells.
It's alleged when police officers questioned Ofoia, he admitted that on the evening of July 5, 2012 Correctional Officer Rocky Tua unlocked the cell he was in and gave him (Ofoia) the keys, and Ofoia then locked the cell. Ofoia is quoted in the affidavit saying that he was housed together with Pite and Leota.
Police officers also questioned Leota and Pite who both stated that it was Ofoia who had opened their cells, affording them the opportunity to leave the TCF. Ofoia — who's no longer a trustee — is represented by the Public Defender’s office while prosecuting for the government is Assistant Attorney General Tony Graf.
In the meantime, the inmates who broke out of jail and burglarized Bank of Hawai’i, KFC and Pizza Hut both entered guilty pleas before the court. Leota and Pite were initially charged with two counts of first degree burglary, stealing, escape from confinement and property damage, first degree— which are all felonies.
According to the plea agreement the inmates pled guilty plea to burglary in the first degree. The plea states that the defendants knowingly and unlawfully entered the Bank of Hawai’i Tafuna branch with the purpose of committing a crime at night and also pled guilty to another count of first degree burglary for unlawfully entering KFC and Pizza Hut with the purpose of committing a crime at night. According to the plea deal, in return for the defendant’s guilty plea the government would move to dismiss the remaining charges.
The plea deal goes on to say, the defendants admit that on July 6, 2012 they broke into the bank in an attempt to steal money; they also broke into KFC and Pizza Hut with the same intentions.
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