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‘Big nuisance on Molokai’ is sentenced to 5 years in prison

WAILUKU -A Molokai man who reported he was abusing drugs and “enjoyed the thrill” of committing crimes was sentenced Friday to five years in prison.

Kaukaleo Mariano, 32, began committing his latest crimes last year shortly after being released from prison, said 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo.

According to a report prepared for his sentencing, Mariano admitted he was high on methamphetamine at the time of the crimes, Loo said.

“You didn’t do it to support your habit,” Loo said to Mariano. “You did it because you ‘enjoyed the thrill of engaging in dangerous behavior.’ I don’t know what kind of attitude that is.”

“That’s me on drugs,” Mariano said.

In five criminal cases, Mariano had pleaded no contest to unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, habitual property crime, first-degree unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle, theft of a credit card, second-degree theft and first-degree bail jumping.

“He’s stealing cars, stealing backpacks and wallets and using people’s credit cards,” said Deputy Prosecutor Annalisa Bernard Lee.

On May 21, 2018, Mariano entered another man’s vehicle and stole a backpack and wallet, Bernard Lee said.

On July 1, 2018, after being given permission to use a woman’s credit card to make purchases for her, he also used the credit card to make withdrawals totaling more than $700, she said.

The same day, when police went to Mariano’s home to arrest him, he tried to run, Bernard Lee said. Police reported finding him with methamphetamine and marijuana.

Then on Aug. 10, 2018, Mariano stole a woman’s vehicle that was parked at Molokai Airport. After residents saw Mariano driving the vehicle around Molokai, he said a friend had allowed him to use the vehicle, Bernard Lee said.

Mariano was charged with bail jumping after he didn’t show up for a court hearing July 31.

Detective Michael McCutcheon called Mariano “a big nuisance on Molokai,” Bernard Lee said.

A plea agreement between the prosecution and defense recommended probation for Mariano.

He said he thought probation would help him.

“I really want to change my life,” he said. “My mom and dad are clean and sober now. They’re really looking forward to me being clean and sober with them.”

Judge Loo said Mariano was “more than a nuisance.”

“This is not your first rodeo. This is not your second rodeo,” she told Mariano. “By my count, you’ve had 15 prior rodeos.

“Before you started committing these crimes, you were barely out of prison. You wasted very little time going back and re-offending in your community.”

She was referring to Mariano’s 15 prior convictions, including eight for felony offenses.

In 2012, he was sentenced to five years in prison for third-degree sexual assault and first-degree unlawful imprisonment, Bernard Lee said.

In other cases, Mariano was sentenced in 2010 to five years in prison for second-degree burglary, two counts of second-degree theft and three counts of first-degree unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle after he failed in the Maui Drug Court program of treatment and supervision, Bernard Lee said.

In imposing a prison sentence, Judge Loo told Mariano, “You didn’t steal to support your habit, which is what most drug addicts tell me.”

“This is a very, very dangerous kind of thrill you engage in,” she said.

She said sometimes people are safe after going on thrill rides.

“And sometimes these thrill rides don’t end up so well,” Loo said to Mariano. “This is your last thrill ride. This thrill ride is taking you to MCCC (Maui Community Correctional Center) and Halawa (state prison on Oahu) and beyond.”

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