Aunt gets jail term for trying to smuggle drugs to Capobianco

Susan Capobianco

Susan Capobianco

WAILUKU — A woman who said she smuggled a package containing drugs into the Wailuku jail as a favor for her nephew, convicted murderer Steven Capobianco, was sentenced Tuesday to an 18-month jail term.

Susan Capobianco, 50, of Wailuku also was placed on four years’ probation as part of her sentence.

“The conduct involved in this case is very serious,” Deputy Prosecutor Tracy Jones said in arguing for the jail term. “It is passing contraband to an inmate confined in the jail. It is the sneaking in of drugs to a murderer, which she justifies because she wanted to make his day better.”

On Feb. 19, Susan Capobianco was sitting across the table from Steven Capobianco in a visiting room at the Maui Community Correctional Center when an adult corrections officer saw nonverbal communication between the two as if to say “not yet, wait a second,” Jones said.

“He saw them both, at the same time, put their hands under the table,” she said.

When the officer looked under the table, he saw something fall on the floor, Jones said.

She said Susan Capobianco was passing to her nephew something wrapped in black electrical tape that contained 12 cigarettes, about 0.3 gram of methamphetamine, marijuana, hash oil and rolling papers. “That’s the most common street drugs we have being passed into the jail,” Jones said.

She said Susan Capobianco told the guard she had received the package from someone on the street in Wailuku and didn’t know what was in it. She also said she assumed the package contained cigarettes that were being traded for food in the jail, Jones said.

She said Capobianco reported she hesitated before deciding to conceal the package in her waistband when she went to the jail that day.

Two months earlier, on Dec. 28, Steven Capobianco, 27, was found guilty of second-degree murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend Carly “Charli” Scott and second-degree arson of her vehicle.

He is the last person known to have seen Scott alive, telling police she drove him from Haiku to about 3 miles past Keanae the night of Feb. 9, 2014.

At the time, the 27-year-old Scott was five months pregnant with a son fathered by Capobianco.

On March 24, Capobianco was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole for murder plus 10 years for arson.

As part of a plea agreement recommending probation instead of prison for Susan Capobianco, she had pleaded no contest to three counts of first-degree attempted promoting prison contraband and second-degree attempted promoting prison contraband. Six other charges were dismissed in exchange for her pleas.

In court Tuesday, Capobianco asked to be released after already spending about six months in jail.

Her attorney, Chris Dunn, said Capobianco is a single mother of three daughters, including one who is an adult. In addition to her two younger daughters, she had been caring for her ailing mother, Dunn said.

He said Capobianco’s father died when she was young, Dunn said.

“She describes her upbringing as one of being neglected, not abused,” Dunn said. “It’s from this background that she has this desire to reach out to this family member who’s in desperate need and in dire trouble.

“This becomes a misguided, woefully misguided, attempt by Ms. Capobianco to assist her nephew, who was in an extraordinarily grave situation,” Dunn said.

He said what Capobianco did was “thoughtless, reckless and compulsive.”

She has one prior felony conviction for drug possession and was placed on probation that ended in 2015, Dunn said. He said Capobianco continued to receive support from Mental Health Kokua after her probation ended.

Since being incarcerated, Capobianco looks healthier and appeared to have lost about 30 pounds, Jones said.

She said Capobianco’s two younger girls “deserve a mother who’s healthy, who’s sober and who is committed to being the best mother she can be.”

In court, Capobianco said Steven Capobianco was “like a son.”

“When a favor was asked of me, I just didn’t think,” she said. “I went ahead even though I knew deep down it was wrong. I hesitated. That’s not my way of life. I don’t consider myself a criminal.”

“I felt very guilty for not being able to do anything to help his situation,” she said.

She also said, “I have been punished beyond what I could explain to anybody. Being apart from my children — there is no stronger punishment than that.”

Acknowledging Jones’ comments about her weight loss, Capobianco said, “I’m not sure if you’ve ever had the food there, but it’s easy to lose weight when you’re in jail,” she said.

“And I’m not running around after two kids,” she said. “It appears it’s doing my health well, but it’s not.

“It’s taught me how precious time is and how much it means to do things, small things, with my children. I have a different perspective on a lot of things in life. As far as my nephew, I’ll do what I can legally to help him.”

Second Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza followed the plea agreement in sentencing Capobianco.

As part of her probation, she was ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs. She was ordered to have no contact with Steven Capobianco, unless she has written permission from her probation officer. “I’m not putting a complete ban on that because I realize he’s a family member,” Cardoza said.

Steven Capobianco, who also was charged in the incident, was sentenced to a five-year prison term after pleading no contest to two counts of attempted second-degree promoting of prison contraband.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.

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