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Man who stole laptops from his children’s school is sentenced to year in jail

He was charged with burglarizing Wailuku Elementary School six times

WAILUKU — A man who said he stole laptops and other valuables from his children’s school to trade for drugs was sentenced on Jan. 14 to a one-year jail term.

Jamieson Amaral, 32, also was placed on four years’ probation.

As part of a plea agreement, Amaral pleaded no contest to second-degree burglary, second-degree theft and fourth-degree criminal property damage. In exchange, other charges were dismissed.

Amaral was charged with burglarizing Wailuku Elementary School six times from November 2019 to March 25, 2020, said Deputy Prosecutor Annalisa Bernard Lee.

She said he stole iPads, an Apple laptop, an Elmo camera, a projector and gift cards.

“He entered the building several times, either through removing jalousies, prying classroom doors open or just walking in,” Bernard Lee said.

She said both the principal and vice principal know Amaral because his children attend the school and both had empathy for him.

“They really just wanted him to get help,” Bernard Lee said. “He is part of their community. His children are part of the community. They really want him to get better so the children can have a father who is present and sober and living a noncriminal life.”

After changing his plea, Amaral was released from jail Sept. 29 to enter a drug treatment program. But he left the program the next day, Bernard Lee said.

He also didn’t show up to court for his original sentencing date of Dec. 22 and was arrested last week on a warrant, Bernard Lee said.

“Sometimes people don’t realize how much of a problem they’re having with a drug habit and they get scared,” said Deputy Public Defender Jeffrey Wolfenbarger. He said Amaral was homeless, compounding the problem.

While Amaral admitted taking laptops and electronics from the school, “he believes there was another person breaking into the school at the same time,” Wolfenbarger said.

“He took them to try to support his drug habit, which is quite severe,” Wolfenbarger said.

Amaral said he was sorry for his crimes.

“I get one drug habit, but it’s not as bad as it seems,” he said.

Second Circuit Judge Peter Cahill asked Amaral how bad he thought his drug problem was.

“I’m not using that much,” he said, estimating he uses less than $20 worth of drugs a day.

When Cahill noted that that would amount to $7,300 worth of drugs a year and could be multiplied by the number of people on the island using drugs, Amaral said, “My bad, you right.”

Asked how much he should be allowed to use, Amaral said “none.”

“You don’t need one of those stolen laptops to figure this out?” Cahill said.

“No,” Amaral replied.

Under questioning by the judge, Amaral acknowledged trading what he stole for drugs.

Cahill sentenced Amaral to prison as part of his probation.

“I’ll give you the chance in this particular case, not because you earned it,” Cahill told Amaral. “I’ll give you an opportunity so your kids can understand that Dad’s going to be punished but he’s going to make an effort to get it down to zero someday.

“Getting the drugs and using them, it’s part of a criminal enterprise. The sellers can’t be doing this without the buyers.”

Amaral was ordered to pay $2,265 in restitution, including $70 to a teacher and $2,195 to the state Department of Education.

He could be released early from the jail term if he enters an off-island long-term residential treatment program.

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

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