By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
A Kona grand jury has returned three indictments last week in two separate felony drug cases.
A six-count indictment charges 31-year-old Joshua Abel-Palakiko Watan, a Kona man with no permanent address, with first-degree methamphetamine trafficking, third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, second-degree theft, second-degree criminal trespassing and two counts of possessing drug paraphernalia.
A bench warrant set his bail at $500,000, and he was ordered not to contact three victims/witnesses in the case.
Watan is one of 10 people identified by Kona police last month as a member of a drug and burglary ring that operated in West Hawaii. He was arrested on Sept. 12 after being found sleeping on someone else’s property in Holualoa, a police spokeswoman said.
Police executed a search warrant on him and allegedly found five packets each containing “a distributable amount” of crystal methamphetamine, and a pipe containing meth residue reportedly in plain sight during the trespassing incident. He also was allegedly in possession of a stolen laptop computer.
While in police custody, Watan was also charged in separate cases of burglary, promoting a dangerous drug, possessing illegal drug paraphernalia and four counts of theft, as well as failure to maintain bail or bond.
Watan is in custody at Hawaii Community Correctional Center.
On Friday, Assistant Police Chief Henry Tavares told the Hawaii County Police Commission in Kona that the arrests of the alleged ring members caused a drop in reported burglaries in Kona, from 62 in August to 18 in September.
In an unrelated case, an Ocean View man and woman were indicted for commercial promotion of marijuana, first-degree promotion of a detrimental drug, two counts of drug paraphernalia and three firearms violations.
Two separate indictments name 61-year-old Robert J. Widdecombe and 22-year-old Brittany Leanna Hustus.
According to police, a search warrant executed on Sept. 17 turned up 215 plants and more than 2 pounds of dried marijuana, grow lights and pots, seedling trays and fertilizer, plus a shotgun with ammunition.
Bench warrants set bail at $26,750 for each individual, and both Widdecombe and Hustus were ordered to have no contact with each other.
Widdecombe had been previously arrested and charged, with arraignment and plea originally set for Nov. 5 in Ka‘u District Court, but the indictments mean that both his and Hustus’ cases will now be heard in Kona Circuit Court.
Widdecombe is free on bail; Hustus had not been arrested as of Monday.
According to court records, Widdecombe doesn’t have a criminal record in Hawaii, but in 1990, then-Circuit Judge Shunichi Kimura allowed Widdecombe to defer a guilty plea on a commercial production of marijuana charge, and the conviction was erased from the record after he served five years probation.
Court records turned up no criminal record in Hawaii for Hustus.
Email John Burnett at email@example.com.