Haiku man’s arrest ‘turned everything around’

Defendant gets three months in jail for possession of drugs, guns

A Haiku man who said it was the “worst day and best day” when police seized quantities of methamphetamine, marijuana, guns and ammunition in a search of his residence was sentenced Wednesday to a three-month jail term.

Benjamin Inciong, 48, was placed on four years’ probation as part of his sentence imposed Wednesday.

Both the defense and prosecution recommended probation and no additional jail for Inciong, saying he was doing well in drug treatment.

“This case changed his life,” said Inciong’s attorney, Myles Breiner. “The day he was arrested, it turned everything around.”

“The day I was arrested was probably the worst day of my life,” Inciong said in court. “But then it was also the most positive day of my life.”

He said the arrest “put me in the same path as my support group, the great people that I’ve come to know, my counselor, my kids, my job, my girlfriend.”

Inciong was arrested April 25 when police executed warrants to search him and his residence on Ulumalu Place.

Police reported finding two loaded semiautomatic handguns, an unloaded revolver and a bolt-action rifle, 40.33 grams of crystal methamphetamine, 4.27 grams of burned crystal methamphetamine scrapings, 76.78 grams of marijuana and four types of ammunition, as well as paraphernalia associated with drug use and distribution.

He had pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of second-degree promoting of a dangerous drug and being a felon in possession of a firearm, with other charges dismissed in exchange for his pleas.

In sentencing Inciong, 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo said she was concerned about the quantity of drugs found, as well as Inciong’s prior criminal history.

“You’ve been around the block more times than I can count,” Loo told Inciong. “You’ve been on probation for prior drug offenses, firearm offenses. You’ve actually served a term of imprisonment.

“When you tell me on April 25, 2019, this was the best day and worst day, I want to believe you very, very much.

“I have to balance the good with the bad and the bad with the good.”

Loo noted that police reported illegal items were scattered in various locations, including a drawer in a bedroom. Some contraband was found in a safe in a bedroom, according to police.

“Were you a considerate felon? I don’t know,” Loo said. “But you should not have been in possession of these firearms.”

She said Inciong’s family members, neighbors and others wrote letters to the court supporting him.

“Everybody talks about what a gracious person you are, what a generous person you are,” Loo said. “Mr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, what happened on April 25? Did you fall off the horse? Did you fall off the wagon?”

She said she had considered sentencing Inciong to prison before reading the letters and deciding he deserved a chance at probation.

As part of his probation, Inciong was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service. He was ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs.

The firearms and ammunition that police seized were forfeited to the state.

Inciong, who previously spent eight days in jail, was ordered to turn himself in Friday morning to serve the rest of the jail sentence.

According to court records, charges were dismissed against Inciong’s girlfriend, Ramona Fernandez, who had been charged as a co-defendant in the case.

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


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