WAILUKU - A man who said he was having a heart attack when he took someone else's truck last year, allegedly intending to drive himself to the hospital, was sentenced Monday to a five-year prison term.
As a repeat offender, Vincent Michelucci, 35, was ordered to serve at least one year and eight months of the term before being eligible for parole.
"It looks like most of your crimes are repetitive property crimes," 2nd Circuit Judge Richard Bissen told Michelucci. "But you're pretty noncompliant with any rules. You don't follow society's rules. You don't follow probation rules."
The mandatory minimum sentence was triggered by Michelucci's Oct. 2, 2003, convictions for first-degree burglary and attempted first-degree burglary. He was sentenced to a 10-year prison term and was later paroled.
When he was arrested Aug. 26 in Kihei while driving the stolen truck, Michelucci was two months away from the expiration of the prison term, said Deputy Public Defender Gene Evans. Because the new crime fell within the 10-year window, a prison sentence was required, Evans said.
Deputy Prosecutor Lloyd Phelps said Michelucci has been in trouble with the law since 1993. He was given a chance to keep a fourth-degree theft conviction off his record for his first arrest as an adult in 1997, but the deferral was revoked, Phelps said.
The following year, Michelucci was placed on five years' probation for second-degree theft and unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle, only to have the probation revoked in 2001.
"Based on his past record, it's painfully obvious he's not a candidate for probation," Phelps said. "The state just feels he needs to be taken off the street.
"It's simply a matter of when he's going to reoffend."
Michelucci asked for leniency, repeating the story he told during his trial that he thought he could take the pickup truck for a medical emergency.
The pickup truck had been parked on Halama Street in Kihei at about 11 a.m. Aug. 26 while the owner was doing a construction job there.
"I just thought I was having a medical issue," Michelucci said.
He reported feeling better as he was driving near North Kihei Road and stopped in Maalaea to get something to eat. Michelucci said he was driving back to Kihei to return the vehicle when friends of the truck owner saw him and called police. Michelucci was stopped on Namauu Street at about 3:15 p.m. "It didn't turn out to be that big of an emergency - more like you needed a ride to the store," Bissen said.
"The jury heard your explanation, and they didn't believe you."
In March, a jury found Michelucci guilty of unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle.
Michelucci's sentencing had been delayed after he said his parents, who live in California, wanted to be present. But Phelps said he spoke by telephone with Michelucci's father, who said he wasn't planning to be on Maui for the sentencing but wanted to submit a letter.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.