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Man who broke into car, stole credit card gets 5 years in prison

WAILUKU – A Waiehu man with a criminal history spanning more than 30 years was sentenced Wednesday to five years in prison for breaking into a vehicle and stealing a credit card that was illegally used 13 times.

Ronald Mendoza, 55, who was on probation in a felony drug possession case at the time, had asked for another chance on probation as part of a plea agreement recommending a one-year jail term.

He said that after his hanai son was shot and killed Dec. 23, 2019, “I went back to using drugs for medicate myself.”

“I came back inside jail,” Mendoza said. “I told myself I’m done with this, I want to get help.”

His attorney, Cary Virtue, said Mendoza wanted substance abuse treatment.

He had pleaded no contest to first-degree unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle and theft of a credit card for breaking into a woman’s Toyota 4Runner parked at Pukalani Terrace Center on April 23, 2020. A credit card and gift cards were stolen from the console of the vehicle, which had been rifled through, according to police.

Second Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo noted that the credit card was used 13 times on April 23 and 24 to make $764 in purchases. Mendoza and his ex-girlfriend Nicole Feliciano were caught on video surveillance when the credit card was used at several of the businesses, police reported.

“It’s interesting that you told the police you don’t steal, you don’t like stealing and you don’t want to be around people who steal,” Judge Loo told Mendoza. “However, you were with Nicole Feliciano. Whether she or both of you stole these credit cards, used these credit cards and went to the store together, your hand was in the cookie jar and you were caught red handed.”

Loo noted Mendoza had previous chances at drug treatment, including in 2018 when he was sober for a short period before relapsing and again in 2019 when he left a treatment program against staff advice.

Mendoza said that “just like a fighter hanging up their gloves, I’m hanging this up.”

“I’m just tired of this,” he said.

“We all are,” Judge Loo said. “Victims are tired of having their credit cards stolen and their vehicles broken into.”

Mendoza has 31 prior convictions, including six for felony offenses, said Deputy Prosecutor Carson Tani.

“He wants to get into treatment. It’s probably a good idea,” Tani said. “But the state wanted to have the defendant serve at least a year in jail.”

In imposing the prison sentence, Loo said Mendoza’s criminal history began in the 1980s on Oahu, then continued on Maui in the 1990s.

“It is horrendous, it is extensive,” she said. “You’ve had numerous chances to comply with the terms and conditions of probation and you blow it off every single time.”

Mendoza was ordered to pay $160 in restitution.

In two pending cases, Mendoza has pleaded not guilty to unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, first-degree unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle, second-degree theft, attempted second-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, attempted first-degree promotion of a detrimental drug, promoting a controlled substance near a park, possessing drug paraphernalia, third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug and third-degree promotion of a detrimental drug.

Feliciano, 45, is serving a 10-year prison term after being convicted of breaking into vehicles to steal credit cards and other valuables.

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

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