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Lanai couple fined, placed on probation in drug, firearms case

WAILUKU — A couple arrested when police seized marijuana, drug paraphernalia and firearms from their residence on Lanai were ordered to pay thousands of dollars in fines and placed on one year’s probation.

Daniel O’Driscoll and Jennifer O’Driscoll, both 38, had requests denied for chances to keep the convictions off their records, with 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo saying she was concerned by the quantity of marijuana seized, as well as the firearms.

“It was a significant amount of drugs,” Loo said at the O’Driscolls’ sentencings Feb. 12. She noted that the total weight of marijuana plants and processed marijuana seized was close to 8 pounds.

The couple was arrested March 23, 2017, when police executed search warrants for the residence they shared with their then 8- and 10-year-old children, finding marijuana, marijuana concentrate and drug paraphernalia throughout the home, said Deputy Prosecutor Joanne Hicks.

Police also reported finding five rifles and three shotguns, including two that weren’t registered.

“They did have a license for medical marijuana possession, but it had expired,” Hicks said. “So they shouldn’t have had all of this, in addition to weapons.”

She said it was a “troubling” situation.

“They have children there,” Hicks said. “They have drugs all over the house, firearms.”

The firearms were properly secured in a safe and most were registered, said defense attorney Chris Dunn, representing Daniel O’Driscoll.

Under federal law, anyone who has had a marijuana card within the past year is prohibited from having a firearm, leading to felony gun charges against the couple, Dunn said.

He said police had obtained a search warrant for the home after a police officer doing a routine check at a neighboring property noticed the marijuana plants in the couple’s backyard.

Dunn said O’Driscoll “did not understand, by virtue of his medical marijuana card, he was precluded from owning firearms.”

O’Driscoll is working full time and has had no police contacts in the four years since the search, Dunn said.

He noted that the arrests occurred before medical marijuana dispensaries were established and medical marijuana cardholders “had to acquire their own medication from the black market or grow their own.”

Both O’Driscolls were cardholders, Dunn said, and could have had 14 plants and up to 8 ounces of processed marijuana. He said they also could possess marijuana concentrate.

When Judge Loo asked O’Driscoll whether he or his wife was more culpable, he said he was.

“I’m the husband of the house and it should have been my responsibility to know the laws better,” he said.

“I don’t know whether you were ignorant of the law or just chose to disregard the law,” Judge Loo told Daniel O’Driscoll.

She said that in addition to having expired medical marijuana cards, the amount of marijuana was over the limit. Police reported finding 16 live marijuana plants weighing 3 pounds, 14 dried plants weighing 3.75 pounds and 1.65 pounds of processed marijuana.

Defense attorney Matthew Nardi, representing Jennifer O’Driscoll, said some parts of the plants were unusable.

Judge Loo noted that drugs and paraphernalia were found not only in the couple’s bedroom but in common areas of the house including the bathroom, kitchen and living room.

She said Daniel O’Driscoll had a 2003 deferred adjudication in Texas for possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana.

In the Lanai case, he had pleaded no contest to two reduced counts of second-degree promotion of a detrimental drug and 13 counts of failing to obtain a permit to acquire ownership of a firearm.

Jennifer O’Driscoll had pleaded no contest to two reduced counts of second-degree promotion of a detrimental drug and 11 counts of failing to obtain a permit to acquire ownership of a firearm.

Asked by the judge who was more culpable, she said, “I believe we shared responsibility in everything because we’re married.”

“I should have checked for myself and not just taken his word,” she said. “I should have known better. I’m detail oriented normally.”

Nardi said that Jennifer O’Driscoll had obtained her bachelor’s degree in 2019 while the case was pending.

After the couple was arrested, their children were temporarily removed from the home by Child Welfare Services. “That was life-changing and heartbreaking,” Nardi said. “It kind of re-centered them.”

As part of their sentences, the O’Driscolls were each ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.

They were ordered to pay fines of $500 for each charge, with the amounts totaling $7,500 for him and $6,500 for her.

Both also were ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs, including medical marijuana, unless they receive permission from the court.

The firearms and ammunition were forfeited to the state.

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

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