WAILUKU - A woman and man have been ordered to serve 30-day jail terms for the theft of property from Haiku and Maui Meadows residences where they had been hired as live-in caretakers.
Susie Holland, 49, and Shawn Fournier, 39, of Haiku also were ordered to pay $6,613 in restitution and were placed on one year's probation last week.
At both residences, owners reported that marijuana was grown on the properties after Holland and Fournier were allowed to move into ohana units in exchange for maintaining the properties while they were for sale.
In court Aug. 24, Holland said she had been given some of the belongings from the Haiku residence in exchange for work. It was Holland, not Fournier, who mainly communicated with the property owners and Fournier had been gone from the property at times after fighting with Holland, said his attorney, Ben Lowenthal. He said Holland and Fournier were no longer speaking.
Lowenthal and Deputy Public Defender Jim Rouse, representing Holland, advised their clients not to discuss the allegations about marijuana-growing on the properties, which attorneys said was in dispute.
Second Circuit Judge Richard Bissen, who imposed the sentences, acknowledged "very passionate, strong feelings on both sides."
"These people had a job to do. They did not do the job," said Rose Sichel, whose husband had cancer when Holland and Fournier were hired through a Craigslist ad to be caretakers of the Sichels' property on North Holokai Road in September 2010. "They held my house hostage when we asked them to leave."
Problems surfaced after about a month, said Deputy Prosecutor Kenton Werk. He said Holland was caught taking fine china and Fournier took tools without permission from the property. Fifty marijuana plants were found growing on the property, Werk said.
After Rose Sichel had Luba Reeves, a neighbor who acted as agent, give notice to Holland and Fournier to leave by Dec. 5, 2010, they refused, staying until the end of the month, Werk said.
Only screws, nails and benches remained in a workshop where much of the Sichels' property had been kept while they were on the Mainland, said Rose Sichel.
"These people were relentless torturing us," she said in court. "We thought they were going to be the solution. They created the nightmare of a life."
The Sichels reported the theft of more than $9,000 in household belongings, Werk said. He said police were looking to question Holland and Fournier, when on March 6, 2011, the two were hired as caretakers for a high-end property listed for sale in Maui Meadows.
"In a matter of weeks, a series of problems arose disturbingly similar to what had occurred at the Sichels'," Werk said.
He said Holland and Fournier failed to fulfill obligations and were caught growing marijuana on the property of Michael and Tess Honack.
On May 16, 2011, the same Realtor who had been involved in selling the Sichels' property was at the Honacks' property and recognized some of the Sichels' belongings in the ohana unit being occupied by Holland and Fournier, Werk said.
When Tess Honack told the two to leave immediately, "Susie responded with a threat - 'I will never leave. I know my rights,' " Werk said.
Four days later, when a police detective went to the unit, "almost all the belongings had been disposed of by Susie and Shawn," Werk said.
He said after Holland and Fournier moved out at the end of the month, the Honacks discovered the king-size bed in the ohana unit had been stolen and replaced with one that was inferior.
In court, Holland and Fournier said they took the bed to the dump because they suspected bed bugs and replaced it with a smaller refurbished bed.
Wailuku attorney Joy Yanagida, representing the Honacks, said Holland and Fournier had played loud music and shined lights into the Honacks' living area from the ohana.
Tess Honack "had real terror when she discovered that her place was being used to house the stolen property," Yanagida said. "She felt she had nowhere to go."
Reeves, who had been acting as agent for her Haiku neighbor, said she wanted to see that Holland and Fournier "will not do this to another person on Maui."
Both Holland and Fournier had pleaded no contest to two reduced counts of third-degree theft.
In letters to the court, both Holland and Fournier claimed to be the ones victimized, Werk said.
"She in no way takes responsibility, describes herself as the real victim," Werk said. "She's able to turn on the charm when she wants to and gain the confidence of intelligent, thoughtful people, only to take advantage of them and respond with hostility and belligerence when confronted."
Werk said Fournier is a convicted felon and convicted drug dealer.
Lowenthal said Fournier moved to Maui "to start fresh" after drug offenses on the Mainland.
"I'd just like to apologize," Fournier said.
Holland said she "should have done things differently."
"In 25 years of caretaking, I've never encountered a situation like this where there was so much dishonesty going back and forth," Holland said in court. "I'm not a vicious person and I've never threatened anybody's life."
Holland was allowed to serve her jail term on weekends, beginning last week. Bissen denied her request for a chance to keep the convictions off her record. He also said she would not be allowed to use medical marijuana while on probation.
Fournier also was allowed to serve his jail term on weekends beginning Friday.
He said in court he had $1,000 to pay toward restitution.