Self-professed drug addict gets 10 years

WAILUKU – A Wailuku man who was on probation when he was seen driving a stolen van containing stolen property has been sentenced to a 10-year prison term.

“I’m a drug addict, plain and simple,” Sebastian Swoveland said as he was sentenced June 6. “The learning curve for me is quite slow.”

Swoveland, 37, said that he was learning as he got older.

While commending Swoveland for taking responsibility, 2nd Circuit Judge Peter Cahill said he was reminded of how an 84-year-old woman recently won the largest Powerball lottery.

“The older you get, the less time you got,” Cahill said. “You keep getting the losing Powerball tickets, keep trying to cash them in.”

Swoveland had pleaded no contest to drug and theft charges in three cases for crimes occurring between January and June last year. Some counts were dismissed and others were reduced as part of a plea agreement.

“What’s most concerning to the state is the multiplicity of crimes in 2011 and 2012,” said Deputy Prosecutor Timothy Tate.

He said Swoveland’s past includes multiple arrests, two prison terms and a longstanding history of drug abuse.

Photos obtained from a cellphone belonging to Swoveland’s wife showed him smoking crystal methamphetamine in October while he was free on bail and awaiting trial in two cases, Tate said. “Even while he was out on bail, it didn’t look like he was making any efforts at all,” Tate said.

In one case, police contacted Swoveland at his residence on Palani Place on Jan. 26, 2012, after he was accused of abusing his wife, according to court records. He began writing a statement, then ran before officers chased and detained him.

Swoveland led officers to a location on the property where two marijuana plants were being grown and also directed officers to nine plants being grown on property behind his residence, according to court records. He pleaded no contest to possessing drug paraphernalia and third-degree promotion of a detrimental drug, with a charge of commercial promotion of marijuana dismissed.

In another case on June 28, 2012, Swoveland was seen wearing a construction hard hat and traffic vest and loading a company’s property into a white Dodge van in a fenced-in property at the old Y Hata building in Wailuku. When he was questioned by a company supervisor, Swoveland got into the van and sped off, according to court records.

The van, which had a fraudulent license plate, was later located parked on Kamehameha Avenue, with tools, tires, batteries and mail addressed to Swoveland inside. The van had been stolen from a baseyard on Kuikahi Road in Wailuku.

Swoveland had pleaded no contest to unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, a reduced charge of third-degree theft and third-degree criminal property damage in that case. He had pleaded no contest to third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug in another case.

“As strange as it may seem, I would like to thank the state for extricating me from a problem and situation that I had no means of extricating myself from,” Swoveland said in court. “Yes, my record is terrible and it’s horrible, but I did my time for all of those things.”

He said that at one point, he had been attending meetings and working in construction through a labor union.

“I slipped and I slipped hard and as such, I deserve to be punished,” Swoveland said. “I’m not denying any of it. I just need to do my time, get out, start over again.”

Cahill followed a plea agreement in sentencing Swoveland.

For his latest cases, he was sentenced to three five-year prison terms to be served at the same time as a one-year jail term and two 30-day jail terms. As a repeat offender, he was ordered to serve at least one year and eight months before being eligible for parole.

Swoveland’s probation was revoked in a 2011 case and he was resentenced to the 10-year prison term for first-degree criminal property damage.

Swoveland was ordered to pay $4,708 in restitution to cover repair of the van, which had its steering column broken and suspension damaged.

According to court records, Swoveland has prior convictions for unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, second-degree theft, first-degree hindering prosecution, being a felon in possession of a firearm, keeping a firearm in an improper place, third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug and possessing drug paraphernalia.