Judge: Woman good candidate to be locked up

WAILUKU – A woman has been ordered to stay out of West Maui while she is on felony probation for stealing valuables and cash during a party at a Kaanapali residence.

“You really are a good candidate to be locked up,” 2nd Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza told Aimee K. Johnson, 20. “But I’m going to follow the plea agreement.”

The agreement between the prosecution and the defense called for probation and no additional jail for Johnson.

She had pleaded no contest to four counts of second-degree theft and two counts of fourth-degree theft of property from six people who were at the party at the home on Hakui Loop the night of Dec. 6, 2011.

Johnson and her boyfriend, Brett Beauvais, 28, hadn’t been invited to the party but went there with a friend who was invited, according to court records. People at the party later reported their belongings missing.

The missing property included watches, a camera, iPods, a laptop computer, sunglasses and cash. Johnson had been seen going into a bathroom at the house several times with different purses, court records show.

That night, Johnson and Beauvais returned home intoxicated and laughing about the stolen items, police were told.

Some of the stolen property was found in a bag that Johnson had asked a co-worker to hold while she and Beauvais went to Lanai, according to court records.

In court Thursday, defense attorney Ben Lowenthal said that Johnson knew she needed to stay out of West Maui and was now living Upcountry. She had been clean and sober for 45 days, Lowenthal said.

“Her life was beginning to spiral out of control,” Lowenthal said, before her mother and sister intervened. “I believe she finally understands she cannot continue down this track.”

Johnson asked for a chance to keep the convictions off her record.

Second Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza denied her request.

In an earlier criminal case, Johnson had been placed on one year’s probation after pleading no contest to a reduced charge of third-degree theft for shoplifting sunglasses from a Wailea store.

According to police reports, a man and a woman had been seen in the store before three pairs of sunglasses were discovered missing. Johnson was confronted and admitted to stealing one pair, which she gave back, police said. She was seen throwing two other pairs of sunglasses into bushes as she walked away, according to police reports.

Cardoza said that reports from her earlier case indicated that Johnson didn’t report to her probation officer, didn’t get a job or pursue additional education and didn’t comply with an order to pay restitution. She also tested positive for drug use, likely provided an invalid urine specimen on one date and on another date walked out after behaving strangely and being confronted about appearing to provide another invalid specimen, according to reports.

She also didn’t follow through with requirements to be evaluated for drug treatment, Cardoza said.

“You have yourself positioned to go off to jail or prison,” the judge told Johnson. “If you do end up in jail or prison, it’ll be you sentencing yourself to do that.”

Questioned by the judge, Johnson said she was still with Beauvais, whose sentencing was delayed because of his arrest Wednesday on additional charges of robbery and burglary.

“This relationship doesn’t seem to be working because you folks commit crimes together,” Cardoza told Johnson. “If you want the relationship and that’s more important than your freedom, so be it.”

He said that the leading cause of women being in the criminal justice system was relationships.

Cardoza said Johnson needed substance abuse treatment.

“If you don’t get treatment, you’re telling me you want prison,” he told Johnson.

As part of her five years’ probation, Johnson was ordered to pay $686 in restitution to four victims. She also was ordered to abide by a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

The geographic restriction to stay out of West Maui covers the area bounded by Maalaea Harbor and Waihee School, Cardoza said. He said the only exception would be if she has written authorization from her probation officer.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.