The two educators implicated in drug-related charges last month are just a couple of 40-something housemates, each going through some rough patches, one said yesterday.
The men both lost their fathers to car accidents this year, and now, their jobs as well, former Kula Intermediate and High School Vice Principal David Rojeck said.
Rojeck and former athletic director and teacher Alan Bertolino were arrested on drug charges April 13 after police seized 50 marijuana plants from their residence on Ka‘ana Street in Moloa‘a, near the old Meadow Gold Dairy property.
A third-degree promotion of a detrimental drug charge against Rojeck was retracted and instead he faces a petty misdemeanor charge in connection with the case, Prosecuting Attorney Craig De Costa said.
According to court documents, Bertolino defended Rojeck when police executed a search warrant on the home and said Rojeck had nothing to do with the plants found at the property.
Bertolino, 43, pleaded “not guilty” Monday to charges of second-degree commercial promotion of marijuana, unlawful use or possession with an intent to use drug paraphernalia and third-degree promotion of a detrimental drug, in connection with 50 pot plants, two pipes and ammunition police reported finding at the home.
Acting on an anonymous tip, officers Daniel Oliveira, Darren Rose and Brian Silva state they went on April 12 to the men’s Moloa‘a residence, where they could see several of the pot plants from the street.
Four of the plants were in the front yard and the remaining were in the back yard, police reports state.
The housemates, who became friends in Indonesia as fellow teachers in 1995, have endured an onslaught of ups and downs in the past 12 months, Rojeck said.
“It’s been a heck of a year,” he said. “This was already sort of a dark time in our life because, by sheer coincidence … his father was killed in a car accident Dec. 18, and on Feb. 7, my father was killed in a car accident.”
As for the ammunition recovered at the house, court documents state there was no gun found.
Rojeck said Bertolino, who moved here in 2005, had plans to ship out some of his other belongings from Iowa, which included a gun he used with his father for pheasant hunting.
“He’s not violent,” he said. “He would never hurt anyone. The kids really liked him.”
Rojeck said he is sorry if the cases adversely affected the school’s reputation.
Bertolino, who is being held on $6,050 bail, is scheduled to appear in court for his trial on July 30.