WAILUKU - A man who had been released from prison shortly before crashing a stolen car in Paia last year was sent back to prison last week.
As a repeat offender, Danis Franco, 34, of Makawao was ordered to serve at least three years and four months of a five-year prison term before being eligible for parole.
"It's just a sad case where it seems like he is unable to deal with the addiction," said Deputy Prosecutor Justine Hura.
She said Franco had been released after the end of a five-year prison term just a couple of months before his arrest last year.
He was arrested Sept. 14 after police received a call about a reckless driver weaving on the roadway, going extremely close to the sidewalk and over a double-solid line, Hura said. She said the driver appeared to be falling asleep, waking up as another driver honked, then falling asleep again before he pulled into a gas station in Paia.
The car, a 2008 BMW sedan, had been stolen from the driveway of a residence in Pukalani on Sept. 9, according to court records.
The car was parked when a police officer showed up and recognized the driver as Franco from prior contacts, Hura said. When their eyes met, she said, Franco tried to escape and accelerated into a telephone pole. The impact raised the car off the roadway and flattened a back tire, Hura said.
She said that Franco tried to flee but couldn't get out of the car quickly enough. An officer deployed a Taser stun gun through an open car window before the officer could turn off the engine.
While he was being processed at the police station, Franco kept dozing off, Hura said.
"He is a man laboring under a long-standing drug problem," said Deputy Public Defender Greg Ball at Wednesday's hearing.
But he said Franco, who has been in jail for more than seven months, had been trying to enroll in long-term drug treatment. Ball said Franco could ask the parole board to be released to a treatment program once he serves his minimum term.
"He has sacrificed his entire adult life for this addiction," Ball said.
Franco had pleaded no contest to unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle and inattention to driving.
Second Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo said Franco has a criminal history of 17 convictions and had been in a "downward spiral" since age 14.
"You have been on pretty much a destructive course for the last 20 years," Loo told Franco. "You've had a lot of opportunities other people didn't have. We can give you all the tools in the world and all the education and help. But if you're not going to learn to use these tools, this is what happened - you're going to prison."
Franco was ordered to pay $10,357 in restitution.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.