WAILUKU - After spending about 10 years in prison for previous cases, a 35-year-old man was given a chance on probation Wednesday for possessing drugs and ammunition found in a Kihei apartment last year.
Sean Napolis also was sentenced to an eight-month jail term, most of which he has already served.
Instead of proceeding with an attempt to have his case dismissed because of a warrantless entry and search by police officers, Napolis decided to take a plea offer recommending probation instead of prison, said Deputy Public Defender William "Pili" McGrath. He said Napolis had a good chance of prevailing in a motion to suppress that, if granted, would have effectively dismissed the case.
"He feels he's got a better chance to succeed if he's got some pressure to succeed," McGrath said. "If he blows it, he's going to prison. He's not going to hurt anybody in the meantime except for himself."
Napolis said he didn't want to make excuses but "for some reason I run to the drugs every time" after being released from prison.
He had pleaded no contest to third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, possessing drug paraphernalia, fourth-degree promotion of a harmful drug and prohibited possession of ammunition in connection with his arrest June 17, a few months after being released from prison.
Police were investigating a burglary report at Haleakala Shores when they found Napolis and another man in a unit, according to court records. It turned out that Napolis had permission to be in the unit, but the men were told to get their belongings and leave.
Two backpacks were on a bench in a bedroom. After an officer saw a magazine with 17 rounds of .223-caliber ammunition under one backpack and both men denied owning the backpacks, officers searched them, according to court records.
In one backpack, police reported finding a digital scale as well as a waist pack containing a pipe with methamphetamine residue, Valium pills and a wallet containing Napolis' driver's license and $680 cash.
In recommending the judge follow the plea agreement, Deputy Prosecutor Timothy Tate said the prosecution also wanted to see Napolis succeed.
Second Circuit Judge Joel August said that "with some degree of reluctance," he was following the plea agreement.
Since 1994, Napolis has 23 convictions, including six for felony offenses, August said.
"You have gotten yourself into a lifetime's worth of trouble in a relatively short period," the judge told Napolis. "This is basically the end of the line."
August said Napolis had been given a "huge chance" because of his attorney's recognition of what police did in the case.
"Had, quite frankly, the police work been a little more cautious in this situation, you would be looking at many years of imprisonment because the prosecutor would not have made the deal they did," August said.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.