Man placed on probation for copper theft

WAILUKU – A man caught in the act of stealing copper at a Kahului business has been placed on four years’ probation.

When he was sentenced March 13, Beniamin Aktchian, 50, had already been jailed for more than nine months since his arrest at 3:39 a.m. June 2 at the Minit Stop on South Wakea Avenue.

Police were called after security officers saw Aktchian behind the business taking apart a condenser, which is used in refrigeration, to remove more than 1 pound of copper, police said.

“He was basically trying to get something for free and make money off it,” said Deputy Prosecutor Justine Hura. “That’s reprehensible.”

Aktchian had pleaded no contest to second-degree criminal property damage and theft of copper.

“I’m going to look at this as not a bad ending, but a good beginning,” he said in court.

Second Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza noted that the law creating a separate crime for theft of copper was enacted recently by the state Legislature.

“The reason they did was because it was becoming a big problem, in terms of people stealing certain types of metals,” Cardoza said. “You need to understand that this kind of conduct meets with a very dim view from all of those impacted by it.”

“Your conduct here seemed to be thought out,” the judge told Aktchian. “You seemed to know what you were doing in terms of getting this copper.”

Hura said it cost the business $4,700 to replace the condenser. But the company didn’t seek restitution from Aktchian, not wanting to see him facing the financial burden, Hura said.

“They thought it was more important to give the defendant this one opportunity,” Hura said.

In sentencing Aktchian, Cardoza followed a plea agreement between the defense and the prosecution.

The judge said Aktchian could take advantage of resources in the community to change his living circumstances and stay out of trouble.

“It doesn’t have to be the way it was,” Cardoza said. “Resorting to stealing metals so that you can get money is just going to get you into a whole lot of trouble.”

In another sentencing March 7, a 39-year-old Waiehu man was placed on four years’ probation for firearm and drug charges stemming from his arrest for intoxicated driving.

Emerson Julian was given credit for 45 days he had spent in jail following his arrest at about 4 a.m. Sept. 5.

Police were investigating a suspicious vehicle with tinted windows in a construction area when a passenger jumped out of the vehicle. Julian, who was driving, failed sobriety testing, according to police. He reportedly told police he had used crystal methamphetamine about an hour earlier.

“The defendant is caught while he’s tweaking on ice,” said Deputy Prosecutor Kenton Werk.

In a search of the vehicle, police reported finding methamphetamine, ammunition and a pistol with its serial number scraped off.

Julian’s attorney, Ben Summit, said the arrest had an impact on Julian, who enrolled in a drug treatment program two days after being released from jail. Julian also found a full-time job, Summit said.

He said the gun wasn’t loaded and the ammunition wasn’t the type for the firearm.

Julian had pleaded no contest to keeping a pistol or revolver in an improper place, keeping ammunition in an improper place, unlawful possession of a firearm, third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug and driving under the influence of an intoxicant.

Julian had a felony theft charge dismissed in 2005 when he graduated from the Maui Drug Court program of treatment and supervision. He reported relapsing in 2012.

When 2nd Circuit Judge Richard Bissen asked Julian why he had the firearm, he said, “I thought I needed protection.”

“You get caught up in drugs, next thing you know you got to drive around with a gun,” Bissen said. “As a graduate of the Drug Court program, you should have benefited more from that.”

Julian was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and $732 in fees.