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Drug dealer sentenced to 2 years in jail

WAILUKU — A Wailuku man who admitted to selling drugs when he was arrested with 5 grams of crystal methamphetamine was sentenced Friday to a two-year jail term.

Desmondlee Catchapiro, 35, also was placed on 10 years’ probation.

“This is the last chance for him to have a new life,” said Deputy Prosecutor Tracy Jones.

Catchapiro was arrested Feb. 27, 2018, when police vice officers executed warrants to search him and his residence on Koene Place.

Police found Catchapiro with the methamphetamine “that he admitted to dealing,” Jones said.

Catchapiro had pleaded no contest to attempted first-degree promoting of a dangerous drug, with other charges dismissed in exchange for his plea. A plea agreement between the defense and prosecution recommended probation and the two-year jail term for Catchapiro with the provision that he could be released from jail after one year to enter a long-term residential treatment program.

“He acknowledges that he has hurt himself and he has hurt the people around him and he has hurt this community,” said Deputy Public Defender Ben Lowenthal. “Nevertheless, he is a member of this community, and he wants to be part of the community.”

He said Catchapiro, who has spent about six months in jail, wanted to participate in the Habilitat long-term residential treatment program on Oahu.

Catchapiro said he was “very sorry.”

“I’m very embarrassed about my actions, and it won’t happen again,” he said.

Second Circuit Judge Richard Bissen asked Catchapiro, “How many times have you been in court and said those exact same words?”

“Quite a few,” Catchapiro said.

Bissen said he doesn’t disagree with people who say jails are overcrowded because too many drug addicts are incarcerated.

“However, you fall into a different category,” he told Catchapiro. “You’re a drug dealer. Drug dealers are addicted to money. They’re the people who bring the poison in and benefit. For them to be successful, they need drug users. They need people to be hooked to the drugs.”

Bissen asked why Catchapiro should get another break, after previously being placed on probation and having criminal cases dismissed when he successfully completed the Maui Drug Court program of treatment and supervision.

“Habilitat is an arduous program — not as arduous as Drug Court, though, and he got through that,” Bissen said. “The question is does he even deserve that chance.”

Catchapiro said that, if given the chance, “I can become a proud member of this community again.”

“Except we’re not talking about a guy with a drug problem,” Bissen said. “We’re talking about a drug dealer. They’re not one and the same. We give people who use drugs drug treatment. We give people who deal drugs prison.”

The judge said he was following part of the plea agreement in sentencing Catchapiro to the two-year jail term and probation. Catchapiro was ordered to apply to enter the Habilitat program after he finishes serving the two years.

“There will be no early release,” Bissen said.

If Catchapiro doesn’t successfully complete the program, it would be a violation of his probation, Bissen said.

“If your words are empty, your actions will speak louder than your words,” he told Catchapiro.

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