Repeat offender gets five-year prison term

WAILUKU — Saying the community needed to be protected, a judge Tuesday ordered a five-year prison term for a Haiku man convicted of theft and other crimes during a six-month period.

James Brum, 51, had asked to be given a chance to enter drug treatment as part of probation.

“I stand before you ashamed at having failed again,” he said in court. “The harm I have done to my family, my community, myself, letting my addiction take over — for these things I am truly sorry.”

In six cases, Brum had pleaded no contest to fraudulent use of a credit card, two counts of third-degree theft, first-degree unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle, two counts of second-degree theft and two counts of unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle.

As part of a plea agreement, two first-degree burglary counts and other charges were dismissed. The plea agreement recommended probation for Brum.

According to court records, the crimes occurred from November 2016 to June 2017.

“This was a crime spree over a period of time,” 2nd Circuit Judge Peter Cahill said.

Brum would probably do well in drug treatment and might do well on probation, he said.

“But you’re just going to do this again, and there’s going to be more harm to more people,” Cahill told Brum. “I don’t like to not follow plea agreements, but I can’t ignore this man’s record.”

The judge noted that Brum was a graduate of the Maui Drug Court program of intense treatment and supervision.

Brum had drug, theft and car break-in charges dismissed when he successfully completed the Drug Court program in July 2010, court records show.

Later that year, he was arrested for car break-ins, theft, drug possession and DUI, according to court records. In January 2012, Brum was sentenced to a five-year prison term.

Brum’s latest crimes occurred soon after he was released from prison, Judge Cahill said.

“This wasn’t a relapse using drugs in one offense,” Cahill said. “This is a multiplicity of victims here, all of whom are not being acknowledged by the perpetrator.”

In a letter to the court, Brum didn’t mention the victims of his crimes but portrayed himself as the victim of his addiction, Cahill said.

“You stole from people, entered their houses,” Cahill told Brum. “It’s all about ‘me, me, me, me, me.’ What about these people who suffered as a result of your addiction?”

While Brum’s letter focused on self-analysis and self-praise, Cahill said the one who deserved praise was Brum’s father, a retired U.S. Army colonel and combat veteran of World War II and the Korean War who takes care of Brum’s mother.

The judge said he didn’t believe the defendant, who said he wanted to succeed in life.

“He will succeed at his drug treatment, and he’s going to continue with his crimes,” Cahill said. “We need to protect people from that.”

Although Brum appeared to have learned from Drug Court, Cahill said the defendant hadn’t learned the “most important thing.”

“When you come out, you’re not supposed to commit new crimes,” Cahill told Brum. “You got through the treatment, but you didn’t use the skills to prevent you from being a criminal. That’s exactly what you did the last time and again now.”

Brum was ordered to pay $1,250 in restitution.

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

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