Prosecuting Attorney Kelden Waltjen announced that a Kona jury has found a Kea‘au man, 61 year-old Charles Zuffante, guilty of Promoting a Dangerous Drug in the First Degree, Attempted Promotion of a Dangerous Drug in the First Degree, and Promoting a Dangerous Drug in the Second Degree on February 2, 2023 in Kona Circuit Court. All charges merged therefore the State has elected to proceed to sentencing with Attempted Promotion of a Dangerous Drug in the First Degree. Zuffante, who has been out of custody on bail for the majority of the duration of these criminal proceedings, was ordered to return on April 3, 2023 for sentencing.
Attempted Promotion of a Dangerous Drug in the First Degree is class A felony offense which carries a maximum penalty of a twenty-year prison term or ten years of probation with up to two years in jail.
The case stemmed from a vehicle traffic stop by Officers Charles Caldwell-Ka‘ai and Devon Manuel on October 21, 2021 near the intersection of Keanalehu Drive and Manawalea Street in Kona. Upon Zuffante’s arrest, officers located a Ziploc packet containing 3.5 grams of methamphetamine on his person. The vehicle was towed to the police station, where Area II Vice Officer Justin Gaspar took over the investigation. Officers recovered, methamphetamine packaged in distributable amounts, specifically ten Ziploc packets each containing 3.5 grams of a substance containing methamphetamine and five Ziploc packets each containing 14 grams of a substance containing methamphetamine. Zuffante was originally charged via grand jury indictment in April of 2022.
“The jury’s verdict reaffirms our commitment to the safety and security of our community. It sends a clear message that we will not tolerate the poisoning of our community by drug dealers,” said Prosecuting Attorney Kelden Waltjen. “This verdict was the result of the hard work of police and prosecutors. I would like to the thank the jury for their service.”
The Office of the Prosecuting Attorney remains dedicated to the pursuit of justice with integrity and commitment. Anyone having information concerning illegal narcotics distribution should call the Hawai‘i Police Department Vice Section in East Hawai‘i at (808) 934-8423 or in West Hawai‘i at (808) 329-0423, or Crime Stoppers at (808) 961-8300.