WAILUKU - As he was sentenced to prison for cashing a forged check, a 23-year-old Makawao man said he was looking forward to going home after serving his time.
"I tired," Kaleo Kuahuia said in court July 10. "Not the way I like live."
"I'm tired of sending another young Hawaiian boy to prison too," 2nd Circuit Judge Richard Bissen told Kuahuia. "But I guess that's the way it is."
Bissen said he was especially troubled to be sentencing Kuahuia to a five-year prison term over $475.62, the amount of the forged check that he cashed Dec. 17.
But because of Kuahuia's criminal record, "no amount would have avoided you prison," Bissen said.
"I don't understand how somebody so bright with so much insight could find yourself where you are now," he said. "Your behavior says you're kind of lazy, but your words say you have some drive."
Kuahuia had pleaded no contest to two counts of second-degree theft for cashing the check, which was made out to him. The business check had been stolen Dec. 7 from a vehicle parked at Walmart.
Kuahuia also was sentenced to a five-year prison term for first-degree terroristic threatening in a Big Island case and resentenced for two second-degree theft convictions in a 2011 case on Maui. He will serve all of the prison terms at the same time.
"He's lived on three different islands. He's gotten in trouble on three different islands," said Deputy Prosecutor Cody Minatodani.
Referring to difficult circumstances in his life, Minatodani said, "The playing field was not level for this defendant.
"However, all along the way there have been a lot of people who've tried to help this defendant," she said.
Deputy Public Defender Zach Raidmae said Kuahuia has support from his mother and a stable home once he is released from prison.
"He has nowhere to go but up," Raidmae said. "It can only get better."