Careful of the company you keep – judge in drug case

WAILUKU – A Molokai woman and a Kihei man were warned to be careful about people they associate with, as the two were placed on probation for drug offenses in separate cases.

Both Pohaiokalani Mollena and Jeremy Sanchez were arrested after they were found with drugs when police executed search warrants targeting others in drug investigations, attorneys said during the defendants’ sentencing hearings Wednesday.

“This is the kind of company you keep, and you cannot be doing that because you get in trouble,” 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo told Sanchez. “You need to be in a clean and sober and healthy environment.”

Sanchez, 46, had pleaded no contest to third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, possessing drug paraphernalia and fourth-degree promotion of a harmful drug in connection with the search by police vice officers of a woman’s unit in Kihei Villages in October 2012.

Police found Sanchez at the unit with the woman who was the target of the drug investigation, said Deputy Prosecutor Tracy Jones. She said Sanchez had four packets of methamphetamine and admitted he was selling the drugs.

As part of a plea agreement, a charge of second-degree attempted methamphetamine trafficking against Sanchez was dismissed.

His attorney Sam MacRoberts said Sanchez has no prior felony convictions and recognized how methamphetamine has affected his life.

“He’s a changed person, I believe,” MacRoberts said. “He’s willing, interested and wants to do treatment.”

Sanchez said he has been sober for five months and plans to stay that way.

Jones said Sanchez reported he was living at a Kihei residence where police found a clandestine methamphetamine laboratory in January 2013. The woman who owns the house “was running a moped chop shop in the garage,” Jones said.

By “being in a relationship with her and having the mechanical talent he has,” Sanchez faced being back in court to have his probation revoked, Jones said.

Sanchez said he was no longer at that residence.

He was given credit for about 10 months he spent in jail, including nearly three months following his arrest when he didn’t show up as scheduled for his sentencing.

As part of his five years’ probation, Sanchez was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service.

Mollena, 29, of Hoolehua also was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service, as part of four years’ probation.

She had pleaded no contest to third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug and possessing drug paraphernalia in connection with her arrest in August.

Her attorney, Al Albrechtson, said Mollena was found with a small amount of crystal methamphetamine after she got into a relationship with Kawika Pa, “whose activities led to the search.”

Following her release after 52 days in jail, Mollena began drug treatment and was continuing in an outpatient program, Albrechtson said.

Jones said Mollena was part of a group of people being investigated by Molokai police. “By their good work on Molokai, they were able to stop this drug operation,” Jones said.

Loo said Mollena, who now lives in Kahului with relatives, was in a better situation than when she was arrested.

“You are a reflection of the company you keep,” Loo told Mollena. “Right now, you’re in a stable environment, a very loving environment.”

Mollena was sentenced under a law calling for probation and drug treatment instead of prison for first-time drug offenders.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at