WAILUKU - Three former employees implicated in a "culture of theft" at the Sears warehouse were given chances to keep convictions off their records as part of their sentences this month.
Gregery S. Au, 22, of Kahului was ordered to pay $8,260 in restitution and was placed on five years' probation during his sentencing Sept. 18. He had pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of second-degree theft.
Au was among a dozen people charged in the investigation of theft of merchandise from the Sears warehouse between May 26, 2009, and May 26, 2010. Sears began an investigation after finding a $500,000 discrepancy in its merchandise inventory at the warehouse in February and March 2010, according to court records.
Stolen merchandise, including appliances and televisions, had been marked as damaged even though items were in new condition, according to court records.
Hearing in court that Au was possibly one of the youngest defendants in the case and had followed older employees in committing the crimes, 2nd Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza said: "It is time to stand up on your own two feet and not get caught up in the current.
"This is a very serious situation," Cardoza told Au. "You cannot (have) any slip-ups at this point."
Au said: "You'll never see me in this courtroom again. I learned my lesson from all of this."
Deputy Prosecutor Kenton Werk said Au was one of the first employees who "came clean" when confronted by loss prevention employees. Werk added that Au was cooperative with law enforcement officials. He admitted to stealing more than $40,000 in merchandise, according to court records.
Defense attorney Chris Dunn said Au "came in while this culture of theft is already up and running."
Dunn added that Au was "led astray" by the other workers but admitted that Au had "participated significantly in it" as well.
Since then, Dunn said Au has put has life back on track, is employed full time and supports his wife and young child.
Au was also ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs.
Another defendant, Shane Wakamatsu, 34, of Wailuku was ordered to pay $4,480 in restitution before Oct. 19 at his sentencing Sept. 20. He was given a chance to keep a third-degree theft conviction off his record if he follows court requirements for one year.
On Tuesday, John Stribling, 30, of Kahului also was given a chance to keep a third-degree theft conviction off his record if he complies with court requirements for one year. He was ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution after admitting to stealing four televisions. Stribling was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.
Defense attorney Sam MacRoberts said Stribling "got caught up in what his co-workers were doing."
Both Stribling and Wakamatsu had pleaded no contest to a reduced charge.
Cardoza followed plea agreements in sentencing all three defendants.
In an unrelated case on Sept. 18, 51-year-old Dennis Singson was sentenced to one year's probation for assaulting his former wife's ex-husband.
Cardoza denied Singson's request for a chance to clear his record if he successfully completes probation and ordered Singson to complete anger management treatment if he had not done so already.
Cardoza also ordered Singson to stay away from his ex-wife's ex-husband.
Deputy Prosecutor Kim Whitworth said Singson demonstrated "poor choices" in assaulting the man when his former wife's adult son and girlfriend were present.
She noted that one of Singson's prior convictions arose from an assault of a coach in front of children and parents.
In June, Singson was sentenced to a five-day jail term for harassing his stepdaughter's coach, records show. A jury had acquitted him of third-degree assault for hitting the coach on Feb. 24, 2010.
Singson apologized for his actions in the most recent case. He added he had endured years of harassment from his former wife's ex-husband.
He said that on the day of the incident, his former wife's ex-husband had harassed his former wife on the phone and then showed up at the home Singson and his former wife were living at. Court records show that Singson punched the man in the face.
In regard to the coach harassment case, Singson said he wasn't harassing the coach, but called the coach to resolve a problem.
Singson pleaded no contest to attempted third-degree assault in the most recent case.