Makawao man who stole laminate flooring gets 6 months in jail

The Maui News

WAILUKU — A man who was seen buying less expensive laminate flooring to replace what was stolen from a home under renovation was sentenced Wednesday to a six-month jail term.

“You can’t steal a Hummer and give back a moped and hope nobody will notice,” 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo said in sentencing Joel Yap Fuller.

He had pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of second-degree unauthorized entry into a dwelling and second-degree theft.

Fuller, 33, of Makawao was arrested in the September burglary of a Makawao home that was being renovated.

The owner was on the Mainland taking care of her ailing father when 16 boxes of laminate flooring, wood kitchen cabinets, a medicine cabinet, aluminum ladder and other valuables were stolen from the home, said Deputy Prosecutor Annalisa Bernard Lee.

She said most of the stolen property wasn’t recovered.

At first, the homeowner was “very distraught,” Bernard Lee said.

“She felt violated,” she said.

She said the owner understands the ice epidemic on the island and believes Yap Fuller needs treatment.

“Joel truly regrets his lack of judgment,” said his attorney, Cary Virtue.

He said Yap Fuller was working two jobs and willing to pay restitution.

In 2005, Yap Fuller was arrested for similar charges and received treatment through the Maui Drug Court program, Bernard Lee said.

“He successfully graduated from the Maui Drug Court program, was doing well in the community and was even in college,” Bernard Lee said.

She said Yap Fuller hadn’t been in trouble since then — until he was arrested in the Makawao burglary.

Judge Loo noted that there were scrape marks on the front door of the house, indicating it had been pried open. She said Yap Fuller apparently sold or traded the stolen flooring and tools for drugs.

A couple of weeks later, Yap Fuller was seen at a store buying cheap laminate flooring to give back to the homeowner. “You pull up in a Cadillac and you’re loading cheapo flooring in a Cadillac,” Loo said. “You know in the back of your mind that what you did was wrong.”

As part of his sentence, Yap Fuller was ordered to pay $2,184 in restitution and was placed on four years’ probation. He was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service and to write a letter apologizing to the homeowner.

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