WAILUKU - After nearly six years in jail, a Wailuku man was released Friday after he pleaded no contest to robbery in connection with a murder-for-hire scheme.
Lawrence Verzosa, 48, was sentenced to an 18-month jail term as part of five years' probation. He was given credit for having already served the jail term.
Verzosa was among three people arrested and charged after a Lahaina man reported being handcuffed and forced into a car in West Maui, then driven through Kahakuloa to Kahului, where he was beaten Nov. 9, 2006.
The victim was released after promising to pay $100,000 to Ronald Bonilla Sr., who was identified as one of the assailants along with Verzosa.
Bonilla was arrested the next day when he showed up in Kapalua to collect the money from the victim, police said.
A police investigation showed that Lahaina resident Aniano Yabo had offered to pay $3,350 to Bonilla and Verzosa if they would beat and kill the victim because he was involved with Yabo's wife.
For much of the time he was jailed, Verzosa had been awaiting sentencing after pleading no contest to a charge of criminal conspiracy to commit murder and agreeing to cooperate with authorities. He was allowed to withdraw that plea and on Friday pleaded no contest to second-degree robbery.
The prosecution dismissed other charges of first-degree attempted murder, kidnapping and attempted first-degree extortion.
"I don't know whether you did it for the money or you're just one of those people who goes along and follows," 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo told Verzosa. "You know better, you're an adult."
She said Verzosa was lucky to have served his jail time at the Maui Community Correctional Center instead of being sent to a high-security prison on Oahu.
"He's anxious to get out of custody," said defense attorney Ben Herren.
Verzosa was ordered to pay $177 in restitution, complete anger management classes and have no contact with the victim.
Bonilla, 66, of Paia is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty last month to a firearms offense and reduced theft charge.
Yabo, 47, was sentenced in 2009 to a 20-year prison term after pleading no contest to conspiracy to commit murder.