Prison time ordered after opportunity lost

Premature exit from Mainland drug treatment results in prison term for Kihei man, 52

WAILUKU — After being released from jail last year to enter a Mainland residential drug treatment program in “an opportunity of a lifetime,” a Kihei man left before completing the program and was sentenced Friday to a five-year prison term.

Jeffrey Makekau, 52, had asked for another chance to participate in the program, which has since opened a center on Maui.

“I want help, that’s what I’m pleading for,” he said in court Friday.

Makekau served time in prison for convictions that include first-degree robbery and firearm offenses more than 20 years ago, according to court records.

In an agreement with the prosecution, Makekau entered no-contest pleas March 1 to third-degree promoting of a dangerous drug, possessing drug paraphernalia, second-degree terroristic threatening, second-degree unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle and three counts of abuse of a family member.

“Shortly thereafter, the defendant was given an opportunity of a lifetime” when he was released from jail to enter the program in San Diego, said Deputy Prosecutor Lyle Keanini.

He said Makekau was reported to be doing well during a telephone call to the court April 26. But he didn’t call in July 13 and it was reported he had left the program, Keanini said.

The plea agreement called for Makekau to be placed on probation if he successfully completed the program. Because he didn’t, the prosecution could seek prison.

“The defendant failed to follow through and get help,” Keanini said. “He has demonstrated he’s not a good candidate for probation.

“The defendant is also a danger to the community, and the appropriate sentence should be a prison term.”

The prosecution recommended consecutive prison terms totaling nine years for Makekau.

When he was arrested June 15, 2017, on the drug charges, Makekau was found with less than a gram of methamphetamine, said Deputy Public Defender Jeffrey Wolfenbarger. He asked the court to consider the “limited amount” in sentencing Makekau.

Most of the other charges, including two that were reduced to misdemeanor offenses, involved Makekau’s daughter and wife as victims, said attorney Al Albrechtson, also representing Makekau. The crimes occurred from January 2016 to March 2017.

Albrechtson said Makekau knows he isn’t a good candidate for probation.

“But he also knows that he has a very serious drug problem,” Albrechtson said. “When he takes drugs, he is unable to control it or engage in any kind of self-control. He engages in destructive behavior to the people closest to him and to others and to himself.”

Makekau spent about two months in the program before deciding to leave after learning his wife “was harmed by a Maui Community Correctional Center guard outside of the facility” and was receiving threats from the guard, Albrechtson said.

He said Makekau entered a branch of the program in Stillwater, Okla., for two days before deciding to return to Maui, where he was arrested in November.

“My reasons for leaving was out of fear,” Makekau said. “Even though I wasn’t a good husband, I was abusive, I wasn’t understanding until I went to this program. I had no intentions of leaving other than my wife’s request to come to her aid.

“I was misdirected all my life,” Makekau said. “Help me to be the man of integrity and to leave a better legacy than a misdirected Hawaiian druggie.”

Second Circuit Judge Richard Bissen said Makekau could have taken other steps, including asking others for help, instead of leaving the program.

“The way you handled it was wrong,” Bissen said. “You put yourself back where you didn’t want to be. Not only are you out of the program, but you’re in custody. All the things I’m being asked to do now, I already did.

“It’s not like the court didn’t hear the plea and the court didn’t take into account all the mitigating factors and all the hopes that were put into this program. As far as the court’s concerned, that was all tried and done.”

Bissen sentenced Makekau to the five-year prison term for the drug count, to be served at the same time as one-year terms for the abuse, threatening and unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle charges and a 30-day jail term for the drug paraphernalia charge.

According to court records, Makekau was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 1995 for two counts of first-degree robbery and two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He also has 1995 convictions for first-degree burglary, 19 counts of first-degree theft and second-degree theft, court records show.

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

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