By Christopher Zoukis
For the second time in a year, a Hawaii Department of Corrections guard was convicted in federal court after being found guilty on corruption charges.
Former Halawa Correctional Facility guard Feso Malufau was found guilty by a jury in the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii on October 10, 2014, on charges that he took bribes from a Hawaii prison gang and smuggled drugs and cigarettes to prisoners.
Malufau faces up to 20 years in prison, after a jury deliberated for five hours at a federal trial on the activities of the “USO” gang, which prosecutors said includes up to 1,000 members involved in drug trafficking, violence and tax fraud. Malufau was among 18 men indicted on racketeering related charges. “Uso” means “brother” in Samoan, but the gang includes members of many ethnicities, said authorities.
Malufau joins former Hawaii DOC guard John Joseph Kalei Hall in the ranks of the convicted. In June, Hall was sentenced to 13 months in Federal prison for smuggling cigarettes into the Halawa prison and selling them to prisoners. While federal prosecutors said at Hall’s sentencing that his activities helped fuel USO racketeering activities, they have since filed a second motion to modify Hall’s sentence, an action that suggests that Hall may have turned snitch. Whether Malufau will roll over as well is not known.
Malufau was indicted along with Tineimalo Adkins, who was accused of leading the brutal gang, and other current and former prisoners. The USO gang operates in prisons in Hawaii, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada, as Hawaii exports about one quarter of the prisoners to mainland prisons. The group uses beatings, oaths, and intimidation as group control tactics, and Assistant United States Attorney Jill Otake said, “there were a lot of hurdles in this case because of the fear of violence and intimidation.” At least three assaults were introduced as evidence at the trial. Initially, Malufau was indicted for failing to report ill-gotten gains as income as to his 2011 bankruptcy filing. The tax case was dropped when Malufau was indicted for racketeering. The Department of Public Safety fired Malufau last September.
Malufau will be sentenced by United States District Judge Leslie Kobayashi in February, 2015. His wife is already serving a one-year sentence for bankruptcy fraud.
Sources: www.dailymail.co.uk, www.therepublic.com
Originally published in Prison Legal News, August 9, 2016.