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Kahului man arrested for escalating crimes gets five years in prison

WAILUKU — A man who was on probation when he was arrested in an escalating string of crimes was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison.

Brandon Fukumoto, 33, of Kahului acknowledged that his drug abuse had “affected me in a very negative way.”

“I do regret all the things I’ve done while under the influence,” he said.

He asked for another chance and “the opportunity to be that better person my family raised me to be.”

In sentencing Fukumoto to concurrent five-year prison terms, 2nd Circuit Judge Kelsey Kawano followed a plea agreement between the defense and prosecution.

In three criminal cases, Fukumoto had pleaded no contest to two counts of third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, promoting a controlled substance near a school, habitual property crime and first-degree terroristic threatening.

Fukumoto had stopped reporting to his probation officer when he committed the crimes from August to December 2019, said Deputy Prosecutor Tracy Jones.

“It shows an escalation of conduct,” she said.

She said Fukumoto was arrested Aug. 6, 2019, when he was stopped by security while trying to steal two bottles of alcohol from Foodland in Pukalani.

A couple of weeks later, on Aug. 23, 2019, police Crime Reduction Unit officers recovered just under 4 grams of methamphetamine when they found Fukumoto and a woman at Tasty Crust Restaurant, which is near Wailuku Hongwanji Mission preschool, Jones said. She said Fukumoto admitted using the methamphetamine with the woman, as well as breaking it down and selling smaller amounts.

He was arrested again Dec. 7 when he was confronted by employees about shoplifting items valued at $125 from Walmart in Kahului, Jones said. She said Fukumoto pulled out what turned out to be a BB gun loaded with a CO2 cartridge, causing employees to back up and put their hands up.

“It showed they believed they were in harm’s way,” Jones said.

“It just shows that he’s out disregarding the rules we live by, engaging in drug use and theft,” Jones added. “And all of this happened while he has the support and supervision of a very capable probation officer.”

Deputy Public Defender Heather Wolfenbarger said that Fukumoto suffers from polysubstance abuse, as well as significant mental health issues including depression.

“He has suffered one of the most terrible losses a human being can — the loss of a child,” she said.

While “there’s no denying it has been escalating behavior,” Wolfenbarger said Fukumoto knows he needs treatment.

But taking the next step and “getting into the door has been insurmountable,” she said.

“We’re all very hopeful that the programming he’ll get while he’s in will help start him on the way,” Wolfenbarger said. “This is a man that wants to do better.”

Fukumoto’s probation was revoked in 2017 and 2018 cases and he was resentenced to five-year prison terms for first-degree unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle, credit card theft and fraudulent use of a credit card.

He will serve all prison terms at the same time.

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

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