Honolulu police officer pleads guilty to civil rights offenses

Local News

John Rabago, 43, of Honolulu, Hawaii, pleaded guilty yesterday before U.S. District Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi to one count of conspiring to deprive a person of his civil rights, and one count of acting under color of law to deprive the same individual of his civil rights.

“As a police officer sworn to uphold and defend the laws of our nation, Rabago abused his authority and violated an individual’s constitutional rights,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division. “This abuse of authority was unacceptable, and the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously prosecute law enforcement officers who commit civil rights offenses.”

“Officer Rabago violated his obligation to serve, not victimize, the public,” said U.S. Attorney  Kenji M. Price for the District of Hawaii. “My office will continue to hold law enforcement officers like him accountable for criminal conduct that undermines the well-deserved respect that many of our law enforcement officials earn on a day-to-day basis in Hawaii.”    

“Sadly, this officer abused his authority and violated the trust of the public he had been sworn to serve.  But our community must remain confident that no one is above the law and the FBI investigates these matters vigorously.  When officials violate the public’s trust, they undermine the hard work of all law enforcement officers here in Hawai’i and across the nation,” said Special Agent in Charge Eli S. Miranda of the FBI’s Honolulu Field Office.

According to court documents, on Jan. 28, 2018, Rabago, a police officer with the Honolulu Police Department, was on duty when he conspired with another officer to force an individual to lick a urinal in a public bathroom.

Rabago’s co-defendant, former HPD officer Reginald Ramones, 43, pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony on Sept. 25, 2019. As part of that guilty plea, Ramones admitted that he was aware that Rabago committed a federal felony on Jan. 28, 2018, but Ramones failed to notify federal authorities of Rabago’s illegal conduct. Ramones further admitted that he was present for a separate and unrelated incident prior to January 2018 in which Rabago made another individual place his head in a public bathroom toilet in order to avoid arrest.

The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of ten years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine; and the deprivation of rights under color of law charge carries a maximum penalty of one-year imprisonment and a $100,000 fine.

This case was investigated by the Honolulu Division of the FBI.  It is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Timothy Visser of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Brady for the District of Hawaii.

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