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Ex-Halawa CO gets 57 months for accepting bribes

Smuggled methamphetamine, cigarettes and other contraband into Halawa Correctional Facility and for scheming with inmates to do so

By Nelson Daranciang
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser

HONOLULU, Hawaii — Former state corrections officer Mark Damas was sentenced Monday to just shy of five years behind bars for accepting bribe money to smuggle methamphetamine, cigarettes and other contraband into Halawa Correctional Facility and for scheming with inmates to do so.

U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright sentenced Damas to 57 months in federal prison for bribery and conspiracy and gave the 46-year-old until after the holidays to turn himself in to begin serving his sentence.

Damas said he was “sorry for my actions that put me here” and “for the things that I put (the state Department of) Public Safety through, the courts, my family and my mom.”

His lawyer, Rustam Barbee, said Damas started out smuggling food into prison for inmates, then moved on to cigarettes and drugs.

DPS fired Damas in April. Damas pleaded guilty in July.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Otake told Seabright on Monday that Damas cooperated with the FBI after he was caught smuggling methamphetamine into the facility in November 2013.

Seabright told Damas he could have cooperated earlier, when the FBI approached him in September last year and seized drug money, methamphetamine and other intended prison contraband from his pickup truck.

Admitted USO Family prison gang members identified Damas as one of three former Halawa guards who smuggled contraband into the prison for the gang. The others are John Joseph Kalei Hall and Feso Malufau.

A federal jury found Malufau guilty last month of racketeering conspiracy for accepting bribes from USO Family members to smuggle marijuana and cigarettes into the prison.

Hall testified as a government witness in Malufau’s trial. He pleaded guilty to accepting bribes to smuggle cigarettes into Halawa and was sentenced in June last year to 13 months in prison.

For cooperating with the government, the judge reduced his sentence in April to 10 months.

A fourth former state prison guard, James “Kimo” Sanders III, is serving a four-year federal prison term for smuggling methamphetamine into Halawa and for accepting bribes to do so.

Sanders, 32, pleaded guilty in March and was sentenced in July.

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