WAILUKU - A man with a history of property and drug-related crimes was sentenced Friday to a five-year prison term after being caught driving stolen vehicles and possessing drugs.
Desmond Puu, 32, of Pukalani now realizes he needs drug treatment, said Deputy Public Defender Wendy Hudson.
"It's taken some time, but I think he gets it," Hudson said.
In four criminal cases, Puu had pleaded no contest to two counts each of unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, driving without a license and third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, as well as possessing drug paraphernalia.
The crimes occurred during a six-month period from September 2011 to February 2012.
After his girlfriend reported that he had stolen her car in September 2011, Puu was arrested and found with a smoking pipe containing methamphetamine residue, said Deputy Prosecutor Kenton Werk.
The next month, when Puu was arrested for a temporary restraining order violation, he was found in possession of marijuana and methamphetamine, Werk said.
In another case in January 2012, Puu was caught driving a vehicle that had been stolen four days earlier from Queen Ka'ahumanu Center. The next month, Puu was seen driving a vehicle that had been stolen the day before from Stable Road in Spreckelsville. When police tried to stop Puu, he tried to get away and crashed the vehicle before running, Werk said.
Puu was ordered to pay $1,250 in restitution in the last case.
"I think treatment will be good while I'm in prison," Puu said in court Friday.
Second Circuit Judge Richard Bissen, who followed a plea agreement in sentencing Puu, said there was a pattern of property crimes and drug-related crimes in Puu's history.
Over the years, Bissen said, there were several attempts to help Puu rehabilitate himself, including a time when he was admitted into the Drug Court program of treatment and supervision. After he was terminated from the program, he was sentenced to prison for 10 years for a first-degree theft conviction.
According to the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center, Puu has 14 prior convictions including ones for first- and second-degree theft.
"It's really up to you," Bissen told Puu. "When you're ready to make that change, I guess you will. . . . You're 32 years old. Half your life you've spent in the criminal justice system and you're going to spend another five. At some point, you got to just figure that out."
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.