By JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER
HONOLULU — A former Honolulu police officer who resigned after a drunken driving conviction has been arrested on charges he stole U.S. government property taken from a Drug Enforcement Administration agent’s vehicle.
A DEA special agent said in a criminal complaint filed in federal court that he noticed last week his official government vehicle was burglarized. Stolen items included a bulletproof vest with DEA patches, a police emergency visor light, binoculars and a DEA dashboard placard.
The agent said he learned from a confidential source, who has provided credible information in the past, that the stolen items were at the Pearl City home of a former Honolulu policeman.
During Saturday’s search at Christopher Carlson’s home, federal agents found items including two ballistic vests, DEA patches and a DEA dashboard placard, according to the complaint.
They also found suspected methamphetamine and cocaine, along with a bottle containing various pills.
“Carlson told agents that a female had given the police equipment to him the night before and that he knew it was going to ‘draw a lot of heat,’” the complaint states. “Carlson further stated that he intended on returning the items the following week.”
Defense attorney Megan Kau said Friday that Carlson didn’t steal the items and didn’t know they were stolen.
“Somehow either the thief or a friend of the thief brings the items to my client’s house,” she said. “He holds them with the intent to return them the following week.”
The statement about the items drawing “heat” was because he wanted to return the items to the DEA but hesitated because he didn’t want to get accused of stealing them, Kau said.
“Then it was too late because they raided his house,” she said.
Kau said she’s concerned about possible conflict of interest because the alleged victim is the special agent who is investigating the case.
A federal judge denied a prosecutor’s motion to detain Carlson without bail. He was released Thursday on $50,000 bond. Kau said her client must post $10,000 cash by Friday and will surrender his passport, which is expired.
Carlson was a 15-year veteran of the Honolulu Police Department who resigned after a 2008 conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol, Kau said.
Last month, his home was raided under a state search warrant and he was charged with meth trafficking and other drug charges, Kau said. During his preliminary hearing, a prosecutor asked to dismiss the charges because of a bad search warrant, said Kau, who wasn’t his attorney at the time.
Dave Koga, a spokesman for the Honolulu prosecuting attorney, would not comment on why the charges were dismissed. Prosecutors could refile charges later.