Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024|
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CORRECTION: A previous version of this story had an incorrect bail amount for Ryen Richard Knapp, based on information contained in a police media release.
A grand jury on Monday indicted four Kailua-Kona men who, according to court documents, were snared over the weekend in a police sting operation dubbed “Operation Keiki Shield.”
The operation had detectives posing electronically as potential underage sex partners to lure the alleged offenders.
Micaiah Hoomaikai Smith, 31, was charged with first-degree electronic enticement of a child and attempted promotion of pornography for minors.
According to the two-count indictment, Smith — using the screen name “K” — communicated with Detective John Surina who used the screen name “Gillian” rand represented himself as a 15-year-old girl. Smith allegedly showed up Saturday at the agreed-upon place, expecting sexual intercourse with a minor.
The indictment also alleges that Smith, as “K,” sent a digital image of a penis to the detective posing as a minor.
The electronic enticement charge is a Class B felony punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment, while the attempted promotion of pornography is a Class C felony that carries a potential five-year prison term.
Smith, who has not been rearrested on the indictment, was free on $15,000 bail.
Also on Saturday, 42-year-old Joseph Michael Marshall is alleged to have communicated either by phone or by phone text to Detective Matthew Bigoss, who represented himself as a 13-year-old girl. Marshall allegedly showed up at the appointed place and time, and was later charged with first-degree electronic enticement of a child.
Marshall’s bail was set at $10,000, but he was freed on court-supervised release without posting bail.
Vincent Vitacion Antonio, 36, using the screen name “blah,” allegedly communicated Sunday with Detective Kahiapo Kauhaahaa, who used the screen name “Takeo” and posed as a 14-year-old boy.
According to the single-count indictment, Antonio allegedly showed up at the agreed-upon meeting place, and was later charged with first-degree electronic enticement of a child.
Antonio’s bail was set at $10,000, but he was freed on court-supervised release without posting bail.
Also on Sunday, 40-year-old Ryen Richard Knapp, using the screen name “Bill,” allegedly communicated with Surina, who used the screen name “Gilly” and represented himself as a 15-year-old girl.
Knapp was later charged with first-degree electronic enticement of a child for allegedly showing up at the appointed place and time.
Knapp also was charged with second-degree endangering the welfare of a minor, an individual born in 2008 and identified only by initials.
Knapp was identified as a parent or guardian charged with the care and custody of the minor. It’s not specified in the indictment whether Knapp brought the minor to the alleged encounter or left the juvenile unsupervised.
Knapp’s bail was originally set at $50,000, but he was released on his own recognizance, according to a police log.
Police say the sting was in partnership with the Hawaii County Prosecutor and the Hawaii Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which consists of various county, state and federal law enforcement agencies.
A similar sting in Hilo in May 2021 — also dubbed “Operation Keiki Shield” by law enforcers — resulted in five arrests with charges. An update on those cases, with the ages as they were at time of arrest, include:
• Sonny Eugenio Puerto, 28, of Kurtistown pleaded not guilty to first-degree electronic enticement of a child. No trial date has been set, but a hearing for “further proceedings” is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. May 19 before Acting Hilo Circuit Judge Jeffrey Hawk. Puerto is free on $30,000 bail.
• Nolan Okalani Tallett, 45, of Honolulu pleaded not guilty to first-degree electronic enticement of a child. According to court records, plea negotiations are taking place, with a hearing for further proceedings scheduled for 8 a.m. June 21 before Hawk. Tallett is free on $50,000 bail.
• Kanani Ikaika Perreira-Yurong, 31, of Hilo pleaded not guilty to first-degree electronic enticement of a child. No trial date has been set, but a hearing for further proceedings is scheduled for 8 a.m. April 11 before Hilo Circuit Judge Henry Nakamoto. Perreira-Yurong is free on $50,000 bail.
• Marshall K. Baji, 31, of Naalehu pleaded not guilty to first-degree electronic enticement of a child, attempted promotion of pornography to a minor, first-degree attempted promotion of a minor-produced sexual image, methamphetamine possession, possession of drug paraphernalia, possessing a loaded firearm on a public roadway, illegally carrying ammunition, and firearms permit and registration offenses. He has an evidentiary hearing regarding a defense motion to suppress evidence scheduled for 9:30 a.m. May 10 before Hawk. Baji remains in custody in Hawaii Community Correctional Center in lieu of $143,000 bail.
• Joseph Michael Powell, 36, of Hilo pleaded not guilty to first-degree electronic enticement of a child, attempted promotion of pornography to minors, and 11 counts of attempted promotion of a minor-produced nude images. According to court records, Powell is in plea negotiations and has a hearing for further proceedings at 8:30 a.m. April 11 before Hawk. Powell remains in custody at HCCC in lieu of $82,000 bail.
Police also arrested 11 individuals, 10 men and one woman, in a prostitution sting at a Banyan Drive hotel in Hilo in November 2021. All were booked on suspicion of soliciting prostitution, a misdemeanor, and released pending investigation.
None of the 11 have been charged.
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