Kea‘au man guilty of attempted meth distribution, Kona jury finds
A Kona jury has found 61-year-old Kea‘au man Charles Zuffante guilty of attempted distribution and possession of methamphetamine.
Zuffante was found 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 Feb. 2 in Kona Circuit Court.
All charges merged, meaning the State has elected to proceed to sentencing with Attempted Promotion of a Dangerous Drug in the First Degree – a class A felony offense which carries a maximum penalty of a 20-year prison term or 10 years of probation with up to two years in jail.
The case stemmed from a vehicle traffic stop on Oct. 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, according to the County of Hawaii‘i Office of the Prosecuting Attorney.
Zuffante’s vehicle was towed to the police station, where 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.
Zuffante, who has been out of custody on bail for the majority of the duration of these proceedings, has been ordered to return on April 3, 2023 for sentencing.