Coach pleads no contest in theft

WAILUKU – Maui High School girls basketball coach Gilbert Silva was given a chance to keep a theft conviction off his record when he was sentenced March 13.

Silva, 65, of Kahului had pleaded no contest to the reduced misdemeanor charge of third-degree theft in connection with charges made on company-issued credit cards when he worked for the Maui Farmers’ Cooperative Exchange.

According to court records, Silva was a general sales manager with the company when he used the cards to make personal charges from January 2009 to April 1, 2012. He had agreed to repay the company for $2,731 in unauthorized charges in 2011, court records show.

Silva’s attorney, Jon Apo, said the matter should have been a civil matter instead of criminal case.

“Notwithstanding the fact that he probably had technical defenses to the charges, he decided to take responsibility nonetheless just to end the case,” Apo said. “The terms of the agreement and the granting of the deferred acceptance at least gives him some comfort in clearing his name.”

A conviction will be kept off Silva’s record if he complies with court requirements for one year.

He has already repaid the money and has no prior criminal record, attorneys said.

Deputy Prosecutor Justine Hura disagreed with the defense assessment that a criminal case shouldn’t have been brought.

“In the state’s view, when there’s a failure to repay after an agreement has been made for a long period of time, it seems like there’s an intent to deprive,” she said. “The only reason we’re here is because he didn’t pay.”

Second Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza followed a plea agreement recommending probation and no jail in sentencing Silva.