7-year-old crimes catch up with man who had moved on

WAILUKU — Seven years after he was arrested for selling drugs to two undercover officers at Makena State Park, a man was placed on four years’ probation Wednesday for the crimes.

Benjamin Bird, 37, had left Maui as time passed before he was indicted on the charges, and he was living on the Mainland, said Deputy Public Defender Ben Lowenthal.

“There’s no further criminal conduct to speak of,” Lowenthal said. “He has a child. He has a family. He knows how to work, and he is a hard worker.

“It is a stark contrast to the person described in the police reports.”

Bird was extradited from Vallejo, Calif., to face the charges after being arrested last year, Lowenthal said.

“He was ready to take an international flight when there was a hit on a warrant, and he was brought back here,” Lowenthal said. “It is a stark reminder of someone’s past catching up with him.”

Bird had been incarcerated for two and a half months in lieu of $125,000 bail before being released on supervision in October when he changed his pleas in the case, court records show.

He had pleaded no contest to second-degree promoting of a dangerous drug, two counts of promoting a controlled substance in or near a public park and second-degree promoting of a harmful drug.

The charges stemmed from his arrest April 22, 2012, when police Crime Reduction Unit officers participated in “Operation Little Beach” at Makena State Park, said Deputy Prosecutor Annalisa Bernard Lee.

She said Bird sold 10 MDA pills to two undercover officers for $150. Bird also admitted to selling drugs at the beach park and agreed to a search, Bernard Lee said.

She said police recovered more than one-eighth ounce each of marijuana, hashish and hashish oil, as well as psychedelic mushrooms, drug paraphernalia and more than $615 in cash.

“Not only were you caught selling, you admit to selling and you had a whole smorgasbord,” including chocolate infused with psychedelic mushrooms, 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo said in sentencing Bird.

He was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service and agreed to pay $2,927 in extradition costs.

“They say birds of a feather flock together,” Loo told Bird. “I see you were staying away from your druggie feathered friends. I see you found a different nest to stay in.

“Maybe you actually grew up and learned the lesson. Your attention should be on the more important things in your life — your child, your family, your business you’re trying to get off the ground.

“I hope you continue to do everything right.”

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.