Woman ordered to pay for stolen jewelry

WAILUKU – Saying it was hard to believe that a woman didn’t know jewelry she pawned had been stolen in a burglary the same day, a judge ordered her to pay $7,164 in restitution for the stolen valuables.

“I’m just finding it hard to believe your story that you didn’t know where they were from,” 2nd Circuit Judge Richard Bissen told Cynthia Kahue, 51. “With your record, including your juvenile record, you would have thought you would know better.

“You have been around a lot in the court system. I think you’re a little more streetwise than you’re letting on.”

Bissen followed a plea agreement between the defense and prosecution in sentencing Kahue on June 28. She was given credit for 57 days she previously spent in jail and was placed on five years’ probation.

Kahue had pleaded no contest to second- and third-degree theft for pawning the jewelry and other valuables June 26, 2012.

In a separate case, she pleaded no contest to contempt of court for failing to appear Dec. 22, 2011, for a Family Court hearing involving her juvenile son, said Deputy Prosecutor Kenton Werk. He said that the incident was just one of many involving her failure to appear as the court attempted to hold the youth accountable and rein in his criminal behavior.

He said that the same son was with Kahue when she pawned the jewelry.

In addition to interfering with the juvenile court’s attempts to help her son, Werk said Kahue seemed to be “teaching her son to follow in her criminality.”

“It’s shocking to the conscience,” Werk said.

The woman whose home was burglarized said she “got lucky” when she checked pawn shops the day after the burglary and found some of her jewelry, which had been pawned by Kahue.

Police reported recovering other stolen property when they searched Kahue’s residence.

Defense attorney Ben Lowenthal said Kahue’s violent and unstable childhood influenced her life. She told a probation officer “she wanted to leave California to start a more quiet existence here on the island,” Lowenthal said.

“That didn’t work out perfectly in the sense that there was still criminal behavior going on in Hawaii,” he said. “However, I do believe it subsided considerably when you look at the full scope of things.”

He said Kahue has both mental health and physical issues and was in a residential treatment program where she is regularly seen by psychiatrists. Lowenthal said Kahue cannot work and receives federal disability income.

Asked if she wanted to say anything in court, Kahue said, “Just that I’m sorry about her house. Honestly, I didn’t have anything to do with the break-in, but I did do the pawning.”

Questioned by the judge, she said she pawned the jewelry for a teenage boy who said he had been kicked out of his house. She said he gave her $20 of the proceeds for gas.

Bissen noted that Kahue received $250, or “pennies on the dollar” for the property, from the pawn shop.

“It’s always difficult to sentence someone who commits a crime and has a medical or some other issue they rely on for an excuse for leniency,” Bissen said.

While saying she was “too sick to go to jail,” Bissen said Kahue was “not too sick to commit a crime.”

As part of her probation, she was ordered to remain in the treatment program until she is clinically discharged.

According to the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center, Kahue has 14 prior convictions.

In another sentencing, a 33-year-old woman was ordered to repay $22,986 to the state Department of Human Services in a welfare fraud case.

Dominique Keawe collected the financial assistance, medical and food stamp benefits from November 2008 to May 2010 while not reporting that the father of her children was living in the household in Kihei, according to a DHS investigation. During that period, he had earnings and benefits totaling $203,387, the investigation showed.

Keawe, who later moved to Oahu, had pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of second-degree theft and welfare fraud.

As part of her sentence June 28, she was given a chance to keep the convictions off her record if she complies with court requirements for the next five years. She was given credit for one day she had spent in jail and was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.

Second Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo imposed the sentence.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at