Woman repays $80K she took from eatery

WAILUKU – After paying $80,000 toward restitution last month, a woman pleaded guilty March 13 to first-degree theft from a Lahaina restaurant.

Helen Perlas Kaai, 53, of Lahaina repaid the money as part of a plea agreement calling for her to be placed on five years’ probation with no additional jail.

Deputy Prosecutor Jeffery Temas, who received the cashier’s check for $80,000 on Feb. 3, said the recovery of the money “was a critical first step towards restitution and stands as one of the largest pre-sentencing payments known to have been obtained by the department, to date.”

Kaai was an employee of Lahaina Grill when the theft occurred between January 2005 and November 2010, according to court records.

Under the plea agreement between the defense and prosecution, Kaai cannot ask for a chance to keep the felony conviction off her record or to be sentenced under a law that applies to first-time, drug-related property offenders.

“Although this money represents an important amount towards the complaining witness’ restitution, this still cannot ever take away the injustice committed against them,” Temas said. “Nevertheless, the efforts expended by the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney is a step in the right direction, towards justice being served.”

Kaai is scheduled to be sentenced May 22.