Man with 36 prior convictions sentenced to 5 years in prison

WAILUKU — A man with 36 prior convictions was sentenced Oct. 4 to a five-year prison term for breaking into an emergency medical technician’s vehicle, in an admitted act of retaliation.

“You did this really, really outrageous thing to this person who was helping you,” 2nd Circuit Judge Peter Cahill said in sentencing Thomas McGinnis. “The bottom line is I just can’t let you out on the street anymore.”

McGinnis, 63, had pleaded no contest to first-degree unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle and fourth-degree theft.

After an argument March 15 over whether the emergency medical technician was going to treat McGinnis, he became upset, said Deputy Prosecutor Ryan Teshima. He said the technician was in his quarters in Lahaina when McGinnis broke into the car, took the technician’s bag containing medical supplies and scattered them over the area. McGinnis was later found with the bag.

“This was retaliation,” Teshima said. “This was revenge at somebody he was angry with. So there was definitely an intent to do some kind of harm.”

A plea agreement between the defense and prosecution had recommended probation and up to one year in jail for McGinnis.

But after being released on supervision when he changed his pleas May 29, McGinnis was arrested in three new cases and was in breach of the plea agreement, Teshima said.

He was convicted of harassment and sentenced to a 30-day jail term in one case, court records show. Two other cases are pending.

After the prosecution gave McGinnis the benefit of the doubt with the plea agreement, “he failed miserably, committed new crimes, was convicted of new crimes,” Teshima said.

He said McGinnis’ 36 prior convictions were for 16 felony offenses, two misdemeanor crimes and 18 petty misdemeanor crimes.

While the prosecution recommended the prison sentence, McGinnis asked to be placed on probation.

Deputy Public Defender Danielle Sears said McGinnis could seek treatment for his mental health and health problems on probation.

While spending the last 10 months “on and off” at the Maui Community Correctional Center, McGinnis said he hadn’t received his medication or medical treatment. He said he was assaulted by another inmate in the jail two weeks ago.

McGinnis said he has been taking anger management classes and going to church in jail.

“All I can do is pray to God to help me,” he said.

He said he was in jail when his father died in 2011, then his mother died a few years later. McGinnis said he had been sober for eight years before his mother died. Later, he said he got drunk and stopped taking his medicine.

“So all this started in 2011?” Judge Cahill asked. “What about all those prison sentences you served in the ’80s, ’90s, 2000?”

“What does everything you just told me have to do with the crime you committed?” Cahill asked.

“Nothing,” McGinnis replied. “I did commit the crime. I did do it out of retaliation because they wouldn’t take me to the hospital. I had MRSA on my feet.

“I try to do good things. I always seem to be screwing up for some reason.”

Cahill said McGinnis needed to change his thinking.

“I got to tell you. I don’t think it’s going to happen,” the judge said. “It’s not impossible. But the probabilities are probably less than 50 percent. So the only thing I can do, because I really believe that and your past behaviors show that, is to send you to prison for five years.”

In each of his two pending cases, McGinnis is charged with fourth-degree theft and habitual property crime, a felony offense that can be charged when a defendant has two felony or misdemeanor convictions in the past 10 years. McGinnis is charged with stealing a cigarette lighter, men’s clothing and liquor on Aug. 30 from ABC Stores at 61 S. Kihei Road and stealing a fedora hat and beverages Sept. 9 from ABC Stores at 2349 S. Kihei Road.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at