The Maui News
WAILUKU — A former Maui Police Department officer was ordered to pay $1,500 in fines and was placed on one year’s probation Wednesday for issuing false parking and speeding tickets, in what the prosecution called “a breach of the public trust.”
David Weis, 44, of Kihei had a 60-day jail term suspended on the condition that he comply with terms of his probation, including not being arrested or charged with other offenses.
Wailuku District Judge Adrianne Heely also granted Weis’ request for a chance to keep 12 misdemeanor convictions off his record if he successfully completes his probation.
Weis pleaded no contest as charged to three counts each of false reporting to law enforcement authorities, false swearing in official matters, unsworn falsification to authorities and tampering with a government record. The charges were brought for issuing false parking and speeding tickets to two people in three incidents occurring in April 2013, July 2013 and February 2014 in Kihei.
In one incident, a bench warrant was issued for the arrest of someone who didn’t show up in court for an excessive speeding ticket, said Deputy Prosecutor Brandon Segal.
“This is not just a case about parking tickets,” Segal said. “This is a case about abuse of the public trust and betrayal of the trust placed in police officers.”
Segal argued for a 30-day jail term for Weis.
“Jail is appropriate and would send a message to both him and other police officers and the community that this court does not take that lightly,” Segal said.
Defense attorney David Sereno asked for no jail or suspended jail, saying Weis already had suffered the loss of his police job and public humiliation.
“He’s been punished in the public eye,” Sereno said.
He said the incidents arose “out of of the blue” for Weis, who was a police officer for 13 years with “nothing at all” on his record.
When he issued the excessive speeding ticket, “it was early morning” and Weis wrote information on the ticket from a driver’s license that was handed to him, Sereno said.
“All David did is write the ticket to whoever was there,” Sereno said.
As for the parking citations, “there was a lot of confusion,” Sereno said.
“The summer before this happened, nine or 10 months earlier, his brother committed suicide quite unexpectedly,” Sereno said. “It was devastating to his mother, to him.”
Sereno said Weis was off work “for a number of months, trying to take care of his late brother’s last wishes as well as his estate.”
Weis, who had been working in the Kihei Patrol Division, went back to work after receiving a call saying, “we support you, but can you please come back to work,” Sereno said.
“He had a lot of emotional issues. He was angry,” Sereno said. “But being brought up by a Chinese mother, he felt obligated. David did what they wanted him to do. He essentially sucked it up and went back.”
“He wasn’t picking on anybody,” Sereno said. “He just wasn’t paying attention.”
“There’s no indication that David had any animosity to any of the people involved in this case,” Sereno said. “He knew them briefly.
“One of them actually called him and said, ‘They’re saying you wrote me a ticket. Can you do something about it?’ So he wrote in and said, ‘I’m sorry. I made the mistake.’ ”
Sereno said Weis’ mother wanted to do the time for her son if his sentence included a jail term.
“She feels if he goes to jail, it’s almost as if her other son is taken from her, and it’s almost more than she can bear,” Sereno said.
He said Weis and his mother operate a taxi company with no other employees.
“He has no intention of ever returning to law enforcement,” Sereno said.
The prosecution opposed Weis’ request for a chance to keep the convictions off his record.
In granting the deferral, Heely said she had to weigh factors including the likelihood that Weis would reoffend and whether the ends of justice and welfare of society require that he have a conviction. She noted that Weis has no prior record, had made numerous court appearances since he was charged in September 2014 and had cooperated in an examination by a court-appointed psychologist.
Heely said she was glad to hear that charges eventually were dismissed for those who were issued the false tickets.
In addition to the fines, Weis was ordered to pay $240 in fees.
“We’re obviously disappointed that he was given a chance to defer acceptance of his plea,” Segal said after the sentencing. “He did not deserve a chance to keep it off his record.
“Obviously, we hold our law enforcement to a higher standard. We have and will continue to prosecute anyone who undermines the integrity and accountability of our hardworking law enforcement officers.
“This is not representative of our law enforcement.”
Without naming Weis, police reported that in March 2015, an officer was suspended for 60 days and fired for issuing fraudulent citations and working at a taxi service without authorization.