Former Kauai County Council Member Sentenced to 20 Years in Federal Prison

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

HONOLULU – United States District Judge Derrick K. Watson sentenced Arthur Brun, age 50, a former member of the Kauai County Council, yesterday to serve 20 years in federal prison for drug trafficking, assault of a federal law enforcement officer, witness tampering, evidence tampering, and firearm offenses. Brun, who was indicted with 11 other defendants on drug trafficking offenses, an assault on a federal law enforcement officer, witness tampering, evidence tampering, and firearm offenses, pled guilty to ten of those charges on November 10, 2021. All 11 other defendants have pled guilty to various charges and are awaiting sentencing. 

According to information presented to the court, while serving as a member of the Kauai County Council, Brun worked with others to distribute substantial amounts of methamphetamine on Kauai. Among the individuals who supplied him the methamphetamine was co-defendant Maluelue Umu, a leader of the United Samoan Organization, which is a gang that operates both inside and outside of the prison system in the State of Hawaii.

As part of his guilty plea, Brun admitted that on October 29, 2021, after he had received a pound of methamphetamine from Umu, personnel with the Kauai Police Department (“KPD”) conducted a traffic stop of Brun’s vehicle. During the stop, a narcotic detection canine alerted to the odor of narcotics in the vehicle. A lieutenant with KPD, who was acting under the direction of federal investigators, asked Brun to get out of his vehicle. Brun refused. The KPD lieutenant then reached into the vehicle to remove the keys from the ignition. While his arm and shoulder were still partially inside of the vehicle, Brun placed the vehicle in drive and sped off, causing injury to the KPD lieutenant. Brun thereafter led investigators on a high-speed chase before he was finally apprehended. Although he threw the pound of methamphetamine out of his vehicle window during the chase, federal investigators were conducting Title III wiretap interceptions on Brun’s cellular telephones at the time and intercepted him instructing his accomplices to return to the scene of the chase to retrieve the drugs.

In sentencing Brun to 20 years in federal prison, Judge Watson emphasized that police officers put their lives on the line to protect the community and that when someone injures an officer while they are doing their job, the court’s obligation is to impose a sentence that adequately reflects the seriousness of that crime. Brun’s assault on a law enforcement officer, Judge Watson explained, elevates the seriousness of Brun’s drug trafficking conduct in this case.

“As methamphetamine trafficking continues to plague Hawaii as one of the worst crime problems in our state, the fact a publicly-elected official led a criminal organization engaged in such activity magnifies the seriousness of this matter,” said U.S. Attorney Clare E. Connors. “The additional fact that this public official personally assaulted a law enforcement officer in the course of his criminal conduct adds to the corrupt nature of his offense. We will continue to hold elected officials accountable for criminal misconduct.”

“It is deeply disturbing that an elected public official, particularly one who was the vice chair of the Kauai County Council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee, would engage in such a pattern of lawlessness and  disregard for the welfare of community,” said Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Seattle Special Agent in Charge Jonathan T. McPherson. “This significant sentence should send a clear message to anyone who engages in this type of criminal behavior that it will not be tolerated.” 

“As an elected official, Mr. Brun violated the trust of the community by participating in an elaborate crime ring,” said Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge John F. Tobon. “This sentence shows that no one is above the law. Investigating organized crime is a top priority for HSI and we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to disrupt this type of criminal activity.”

“Illicit drugs, especially methamphetamine, are responsible for destroying too many lives,” said Kauai Police Department Chief Todd Raybuck. “This case is evidence of the dedication and collaboration between the Kauai Police
Department and our federal partners. I am proud of, and grateful for, the women and men that placed themselves in harm’s way, sacrificing much time away from their families, to bring this case to conclusion. The Kauai Police Department and our federal partners will continue to identify, investigate, and bring to justice those persons responsible for distributing the illicit drugs that are causing addiction and suffering in too many homes across our community.”

ATF, the Kauai Police Department, and HSI conducted the investigation that resulted in the indictment, with the assistance of the United States Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Coast Guard Investigative Service.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Micah Smith, Chris Thomas, and Michael Nammar handled the prosecution.