Drug possession, theft net 5 years

A 50-year-old Lahaina man with a history of 20 criminal convictions has been sentenced to a five-year prison term for drug possession and the theft of two backpacks from a Lahaina beach.

Jason Ampong also was ordered to pay $1,245 in restitution as part of his sentence Jan. 11 in 2nd Circuit Court.

Ampong had pleaded no contest to second-degree theft, theft of a credit card, fraudulent use of a credit card, fourth-degree theft, third-degree identity theft and third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug.

The backpacks were stolen at about 1 a.m. Sept. 21 when they were left on the beach by a man and woman swimming in the ocean near 505 Front St. They reported seeing a man wearing a baseball cap grab the backpacks, which contained iPhones and other valuables, and run away.

A couple of hours later, a credit card from one of the backpacks was used to buy $50 in gas at a gas station on Lahainaluna Road. A cashier remembered the credit card user wearing camouflage clothing and driving a dark green Toyota 4Runner with tinted windows.

Surveillance video showed the man who used the credit card and was described as a regular customer, according to court records. The credit card also was used in an attempt to pay a Sprint phone bill.

After Ampong was identified as the one who used the credit card at the gas station, he was arrested the night of Sept. 28 while standing outside a green Toyota 4Runner near Mile Marker 14 in Olowalu. In the vehicle, police reported finding plastic packets containing 0.77 gram of crystal methamphetamine and a glass smoking pipe with drug residue.

Ampong admitted to police that he took the two backpacks and used the credit card to buy gas and to try to pay the phone bill, according to court records. He told police he buried the backpacks underwater near a canal between the Lahaina Small Boat Harbor and King Kamehameha III Elementary School.

Police later located the backpacks in the area that Ampong described.

He also admitted to several more crimes, including breaking into cars and using another stolen credit card to obtain gas and cash advances, according to court records.

According to court records, Ampong has prior convictions since 1981 for crimes including first-degree bail jumping, first- and second-degree burglary, theft, forgery, DUI, harassment and criminal trespassing.

Judge Richard Bissen imposed the sentence.

In other sentencings Jan. 11:

* A 25-year-old Kihei man was sentenced to a one-year jail term and five years’ probation for the theft of a backpack from the beach fronting the Grand Wailea Resort.

Justin Boughan, who had given his name as Bryan Bonin, had pleaded no contest to second-degree theft.

The backpack was stolen shortly after 8 a.m. June 9 when a man and his daughter were swimming while his girlfriend watched with her back to their belongings.

After notifying hotel security, the man was searching the area when he saw Boughan rummaging through the same type of backpack, according to court records.

The man confronted Boughan, who said he found the backpack and that it belonged to his friend.

The man was calling police when he saw his cellphone, money holder and digital camera in the pocket of Boughan’s shorts, court records show.

* A 27-year-old Kahului man was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine after he was found rummaging through dresser drawers in a bedroom of a unit at the Grand Champions in Wailea.

Jimson Joe was given credit for 48 days he previously spent in jail. He was given a chance to keep a first-degree burglary conviction off his record if he complies with court requirements for the next five years.

A tenant returning to the second-floor unit found Joe inside at about 11 a.m. May 14 and recognized his shirt as one worn by property ground maintenance employees, according to court records. Joe told police he had entered the apartment by climbing to the second-story balcony and entering through an unlocked screen door. He was working for the groundskeeping company at the time.

Nothing was taken from the apartment.