Landon Rudolfo is a veteran police officer who’s job is to uphold the law, but on Tuesday, a jury found him guilty of a felony crime involving a stolen vehicle.
Rudolfo was found guilty of trafficking a stolen vehicle, which has a maximum sentence of 10 years. He also faced a conspiracy charge, but the jury acquitted him of that.
Rudolfo faces a longer prison term with the trafficking charge, so prosecutors are pleased with the verdict. But Rudolfo’s attorney says if jurors dismissed one charge, they should have done so for both.
Rudolfo has been a Honolulu police officer for 11 years. He was with HPD’s traffic division when he asked two men to get him a Toyota 4Runner with an altered vehicle identification number (VIN).
One man bought a 4Runner that had been totaled while the other man stole a similar vehicle and then swapped the identification numbers. Rudolfo then bought the stolen 4Runner for $3,000 and sold it for $6,500.
“The elements of the trafficking offense are that he knowingly received or possessed the vehicle knowing that the vehicle’s identification numbers have been altered with the intent to sell it,” said assistant U.S. attorney Marc Wallenstein.
Jurors found Rudolfo not guilty of conspiracy to traffic stolen vehicles, a charge that includes a second vehicle that was allegedly used for insurance fraud.
Rudolfo’s attorney calls the verdict inconsistent. He says it doesn’t make any sense, so he plans to file a motion to dismiss the verdict.
“Because he’s acquitted of the general offense and then somehow convicted of the specific offense, if he’s not guilty totally for the conspiracy, he should be not guilty for the specific offense,” argued defense attorney Keith Shigetomi.
Another HPD officer, Roddy Tsunezumi, testified against Rudolfo as part of a plea deal. Tsunezumi is already serving time in federal prison for extortion in a separate case.
A lawmaker says this is another sad day for the police department and it’s happening all too often.
“When you’re wearing the uniform and the badge, you vow to uphold the law and it’s certainly a bad reflection on this officer as well as the department,” said Sen. Will Espero, vice chair of the Senate committee on public safety, intergovernmental, and military affairs.
Rudolfo has been on restricted duty since 2014. He was placed on leave without pay since the beginning of the year.
HPD Deputy Chief Cary Okimoto said in a statement:
“The Honolulu Police Department strives to hold its personnel to the highest professional standards. The HPD understands the ruling of the Federal Court, which would disqualify any officer from carrying a firearm — and therefore from being an active police officer — in the future. Rudolfo is on leave without pay as internal disciplinary ruling proceedings are finalized.”
Rudolfo remains free on bond. His sentencing is scheduled for July 6. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.