WAILUKU - A Kihei man who admitted he had been selling methamphetamine when he was arrested two years ago was sentenced Tuesday to a 10-year prison term.
James Osaki, 50, was ordered to serve at least three years of the term before being eligible for parole.
The mandatory-minimum term applied to his conviction for attempted second-degree methamphetamine trafficking. He had pleaded no contest to that reduced charge and to possessing drug paraphernalia in connection with his arrest Sept. 14, 2011, when police reported finding him with methamphetamine, a digital gram scale and plastic packets.
"There was a large amount of methamphetamine found in this defendant's possession," said Deputy Prosecutor Terence Herndon. "He did admit to dealing methamphetamine, putting it out in the community. That greatly harms the community.
"Methamphetamine is such a big problem in this community. To have that amount dealt to other persons that are struggling with addiction is just sad."
Osaki also had pleaded no contest to third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug for 6.75 grams of methamphetamine found in his pocket Aug. 21, 2012, when police arrested him on a warrant in the earlier drug case, according to court records.
Osaki was an employee of the Hale Kau Kau feeding program at St. Teresa Church in Kihei when police located him there, police reported.
In court Tuesday, his mother, Marie Osaki, former director of Hale Kau Kau, said she was sorry her son got involved with drugs.
She asked the judge if the start of James Osaki's prison term could be delayed until her health improves. She said her son had been helping care for her, and she may need to move to Oahu if he's no longer able to help.
"The person we see here today is a lot different than the person two years ago who had relapsed and was using drugs," Deputy Public Defender Shelly Miyashiro said. "Since then, Mr. Osaki has got his act together, has taken on the care of his mother. He has also maintained employment. He has always been a hard worker."
She said he had tested negative for drug use while his cases have been pending.
Osaki was placed on probation for prior felony convictions for second-degree promotion of a dangerous drug in 1993 and second-degree escape in 2003.
"You think he would have learned from the prior contacts with the law," Herndon said.
In sentencing Osaki to prison, 2nd Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza followed a plea agreement between the defense and prosecution.
Cardoza denied the request to postpone the start of the prison term, noting that Osaki's sentencing had previously been delayed once and about six months had passed since he changed his pleas in the cases.
"It's a shame that you find yourself in this situation," Cardoza told Osaki. "I hope you can get things turned around for your sake and for the sake of your mother, who will be adversely impacted by all of this. She obviously has no fault in any of this, but she's going to suffer as a result."
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.