Man ordered to jail on firearms, drug charges

Brother sentenced to 4-year probation, community service

WAILUKU — A one-year jail term was ordered for a Molokai man while his brother was spared additional jail when they were sentenced for illegally possessing rifles and drugs found in searches of their residences two years ago.

Police had search warrants for Solomon Kupau Jr., 53, and a house on the Hoolehua property where both brothers lived when police went to execute the warrants Nov. 18, 2016, according to court records.

The search warrant was for a house that Kupau didn’t occupy, but he consented to a police search that resulted in the recovery of two rifles, ammunition and drugs in his living area, said his attorney Al Albrechtson.

He said some of the drugs were Kupau’s and some belonged to his girlfriend, Raynelle Pelekai, 33. She was placed on four years’ probation for drug convictions last year.

At his sentencing Nov. 30, Kupau asked to be placed on probation so he could get drug treatment for his methamphetamine use that began in the mid-1980s.

“I really like get help for myself,” he said. “I was a heavy user. This drug is hard for get off.”

Deputy Prosecutor David Mincavage recommended a five-year prison term for Kupau, citing his prior record, including his first felony conviction in April 1997.

“He’s been given chance after chance after chance,” Mincavage said. “He admits to selling crystal methamphetamine to support his habit of smoking it.”

After being placed on misdemeanor probation for fourth-degree promoting a harmful drug in June, Kupau was reported to be rated “very poor” in his adjustment to probation as recently as Oct. 29, Mincavage said.

Kupau had pleaded no contest to two counts each of being a felon in possession of a firearm, being a felon in possession of firearm ammunition and unlawful possession of a firearm, as well as third-degree promoting of a dangerous drug, third-degree promoting of a detrimental drug and possessing drug paraphernalia.

Second Circuit Judge Richard Bissen noted that Kupau’s record includes being sentenced to prison. Kupau finished serving a one-year jail term for third-degree criminal property damage, second-degree terroristic threatening and second-degree reckless endangering six or seven months before being arrested in the 2016 gun and drug case, Bissen said.

He said Kupau wasn’t a good candidate for probation, but he was willing to give Kupau a chance.

“I also see an older gentleman standing in front of me, someone who’s maybe starting to slow down, maybe starting to realize you can’t be running ’em hard all the time and end up in the same place,” Bissen said. “We’ll see if you’re true to your word.”

Bissen said he didn’t believe Kupau’s claims that the rifles belonged to his daughter or her boyfriend.

“The gun is because you sell meth,” Bissen told Kupau. “You sell meth to your fellow Molokaians.”

Kupau was sentenced to a one-year jail term as part of four years’ probation. He was ordered not to own or possess firearms or ammunition.

“You got to work,” Bissen said to Kupau. “You cannot be selling meth, and you cannot be at home watching TV and using meth.”

The judge ordered Kupau to enroll in a residential drug treatment program after he serves the jail term.

“Now you got a chance,” Bissen said. “If you want to take advantage of it, you can.”

In a separate sentencing, Kupau’s brother, Charles Kupau, 50, was placed on four years’ probation and was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.

Charles Kupau had pleaded no contest to being a felon in possession of a firearm, being a felon in possession of firearm ammunition and third-degree promoting of a dangerous drug.

On the same day that his brother’s residence was searched, police seized a .22-caliber rifle, 127 rounds of ammunition and a smoking pipe with methamphetamine residue from a shed that Charles Kupau was living in. The shed was about 200 feet away from the dwelling that was the target of the search warrant, said Deputy Public Defender Jeffrey Wolfenbarger.

While Kupau was taking responsibility for the contraband, “we believe the search was unconstitutional,” Wolfenbarger said.

Kupau said he bought the rifle for $100, had restored it and was planning to sell it.

He said he knew he wasn’t allowed to possess firearms or ammunition as a convicted felon since October 2010.

In another case, Kupau had pleaded no contest to second-degree burglary for taking chain saws from a toolshed on Dec. 16, 2016.

While the prosecution sought restitution for a chain saw that the victim reported wasn’t recovered, Kupau said the two chain saws he took were returned. He said he had gone to the toolshed to get back his weed wacker.

When he couldn’t find the weed wacker, he took the chain saws to hold until his weed wacker was returned, Kupau said. He said one chain saw was left in the car of a co-defendant who had given Kupau a ride.

Judge Bissen declined to order restitution.

Kupau was given credit for two days he’d previously spent in jail.

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

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