Man who fled Drug Court says it saved life

WAILUKU – A Kihei man who said the Maui Drug Court “saved my life” was sentenced to a five-year prison term after being on the run from the program for five months last year.

Michael Lewis II, 51, had asked for a second chance through probation.

“I’m standing here as a completely different man,” he said in court on Feb. 7. “I have been clean and sober for four years.

“Drug Court saved my life. I’ve come a long ways, and I don’t want to lose it now.”

Second Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza said Lewis had been given chances to rehabilitate himself through probation and prison before he was admitted into the Drug Court program of treatment and supervision in October 2009.

“Unfortunately, that didn’t work either,” Cardoza said.

By absconding from the program, Lewis ended the supervision and services that had been provided for him, Cardoza said.

During the nearly three years that Lewis spent in Drug Court, he obtained the equivalent of a high school diploma, got a job and never relapsed, said Deputy Public Defender Annalisa Bernard.

“He is an asset to the community,” she said. “He’s no longer doing drugs.”

Lewis was admitted into the program after being arrested in two cases on charges of two counts of second-degree theft, theft of a credit card and fraudulent use of a credit card.

The charges stemmed from Lewis’ struggles with methamphetamine use, Bernard said. In one case in June 2006, he took a tractor mower from his employer. In the other case in 2007, he took a gas card from an employer and used it nine times without permission.

After stealing the tractor, Lewis gave it to his landlord for back rent, said Deputy Prosecutor Renee Ishikawa Delizo. She said Lewis charged $551 in gas in the other case.

She said that before Lewis moved to Maui in December 2003, he had felony convictions in California for burglary and theft, as well as convictions for misdemeanor theft and drug offenses.

After being admitted into Drug Court, Lewis had been given a second chance after he missed treatment requirements and didn’t show up for a court hearing in 2011, Ishikawa Delizo said. She said his noncompliance continued in 2012 when he missed meetings, then didn’t appear at a June court hearing.

Bernard said a work injury led to Lewis missing program classes.

Lewis, who has already served about a year and a half in jail, was ordered to pay $551 in restitution.

In another sentencing Feb. 5, a 43-year-old Molokai man was placed on five years’ probation for threatening his estranged wife while displaying a pistol last year.

Delfin Rabara of Kaunakakai was ordered to complete a domestic violence intervention program. He was given credit for nine days he previously spent in jail.

Rabara had pleaded no contest to first-degree terroristic threatening, carrying a loaded firearm on a public highway, keeping a pistol in an improper place and not obtaining a permit to acquire a firearm.

He was arrested Aug. 30 after going to his wife’s residence and getting into an argument with her. Rabara lifted his jacket to display a loaded .22-caliber Glock pistol that was tucked in his waistband, said Deputy Prosecutor Mark Simonds.

He said Rabara’s wife reported being afraid after Rabara told her, “I can kill you. Call your friends.”

Rabara left the residence and was located by police about 15 minutes later, according to court records.

Letters to the court showed support for Rabara from friends and co-workers, said Deputy Public Defender Adriel Menor.

The firearm was forfeited to the state.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at