WAILUKU - A former Sears employee who was among those implicated in the theft of about $500,000 in merchandise from the Sears warehouse and a moving company employee who "jumped into this pool of theft" were ordered to pay fines of $1,000 each at their sentencings.
Both Reynard Hepa, 48, of Wailuku, who had been working at Sears when the thefts occurred from May 26, 2009, to May 26, 2010, and Douglas Lizada, 35, of Kahului, who worked for Island Movers at the time, had their requests denied to keep theft convictions off their records.
Hepa, who was sentenced late last month, was placed on five years' probation after he had pleaded no contest to second-degree theft. He was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.
Lizada was placed on one year's probation Dec. 4 after he had pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of third-degree theft. He also was ordered to pay $450 in restitution and to perform 50 hours of community service.
Lizada became involved in December 2009 when his friend, Gregery Au, asked Lizada to take a television home as a favor, said attorney Al Albrechtson, representing Lizada. Au, who was described as one of the main people responsible in the scheme, picked up the television from Lizada's home and gave him $150, Albrechtson said.
The following month, he said that Au again asked Lizada to do a favor, this time by taking two televisions home. Albrechtson said that Au gave Lizada $150 for each television when he picked them up.
"He is extremely embarrassed and remorseful about what happened in this case," Albrechtson said.
In arguing for a deferral for Lizada, Albrechtson said seven of eight defendants sentenced before Lizada in the case had been given a chance to keep convictions off their records. Among them was Au, 22, of Kahului, who had pleaded no contest to second-degree theft and was ordered to pay $8,260 in restitution.
Cases are pending against three others charged in the theft scheme, Albrechtson said.
Deputy Prosecutor Jeffery Temas opposed Lizada's request for a chance to keep the conviction off his record.
Temas described those involved in the thefts as an "exclusive community of corrupt Sears employees."
Merchandise, including appliances, televisions and lawn tractors, were stolen after being marked as damaged even though items were in new condition, according to court records.
"This defendant willingly jumped into this pool of theft," Temas said.
He said that Lizada "made a deal where he would act as a mover of merchandise and shuttle" items from the warehouse to the Sears service center, where someone would pick them up later.
Lizada and Hepa "were seen arriving at the Sears warehouse with a large rental truck and loading the truck full of merchandise," Temas said.
Not only did Sears suffer losses, but the costs of the thefts were passed on to Sears customers, Temas said.
He also opposed Hepa's request to keep his theft conviction off his record at his sentencing last week.
While following plea agreements recommending no jail for both defendants, 2nd Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza denied both requests for deferrals, citing the facts and circumstances of the case and background information.
Lizada has nine prior misdemeanor convictions, the judge noted.
Both men were ordered to write letters apologizing to Sears and to stay away from the Sears store at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center, as well as the Sears warehouse and service center in Kahului.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.