Judge throws out plea deal, hands down prison term

The ‘gravity of the crimes’ determined 10-year sentence

WAILUKU — Citing the “gravity of the crimes,” a judge Thursday sentenced a man to a 10-year prison term for burglarizing one home and trying to burglarize another as part of a crime spree that included stealing and using stolen credit cards.

Kainoa Kaoni, 22, was on probation for similar offenses when his latest crimes occurred in January and February.

Kaoni had been released from jail when he was placed on probation in December 2016 before committing “a string of very similar crimes to subsidize or fund an overwhelming substance abuse problem for which he’s never gotten any adequate treatment,” said defense attorney Chris Dunn.

If Kaoni received another chance on probation, his mother would help him seek drug treatment on Oahu, said Deputy Public Defender Heather Brown.

“We’re asking for one last chance,” she said.

A plea agreement between the defense and prosecution recommended probation and a one-year jail term for Kaoni.

Second Circuit Judge Peter Cahill said it was “with great reluctance” that he wasn’t following the plea agreement and sentencing Kaoni to prison.

Cahill said mitigating factors in Kaoni’s case were outweighed by aggravating factors “and just the gravity of the crimes.”

In four criminal cases, Kaoni had pleaded no contest to first-degree burglary, attempted first-degree burglary, second-degree theft, three counts of unauthorized possession of confidential personal information, seven counts of theft of a credit card, five counts of fraudulent use of a credit card, first-degree unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle, second-degree identity theft, 15 counts of second-degree forgery, third-degree theft and fourth-degree theft.

Cahill said that the victims’ requests for restitution didn’t reflect how people were affected by the crimes.

“They’re asking to be compensated for the money, but all of the time, all of the grief people go through, all of the suffering as a result of the property crimes is tremendous,” Cahill said. “And that goes uncompensated.”

Before imposing the prison sentence Thursday, Cahill asked why Kaoni didn’t want to participate in the Maui Drug Court program of treatment and supervision as part of a probation sentence.

“I really want you to think about doing Drug Court,” Cahill told Kaoni. “You’re going to go to prison unless you give yourself a chance to go to the Drug Court. The chance I’m giving you is to go into an excellent program that will give you guidance and give you that opportunity.”

Kaoni said the reason was “I have a fear that I’m not going to make it.”

“Why don’t you want to do it?” Cahill said. “Fear of failure shouldn’t be a reason not to do something. Otherwise, you’re always stuck in the same position. Not everybody succeeds in Drug Court, but a lot of people do.”

Cahill asked if Kaoni wanted to delay his sentencing for a week and think about Drug Court. Kaoni said no.

Kaoni was ordered to pay $3,859 in restitution.

His probation was revoked in four cases and he was resentenced to five-year prison terms to be served at the same time.

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