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Defendant to serve jail time for using forged license to buy car

WAILUKU — An 18-month jail term was ordered as part of four years’ probation for a defendant who used a forged driver’s license to buy a vehicle from a dealership in Kihei.

Robert “Robbie” Akuna, 27, of Kihei had pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of second-degree identity theft, as well as first-degree theft, second-degree forgery and sale or manufacture of false identification. Other charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

“The defendant is a con artist,” Deputy Prosecutor Johann Smith said at Akuna’s sentencing May 20.

Smith said Akuna impersonated someone else “in an elaborate scheme” to steal the $40,000 vehicle.

Akuna “never intended to pay for it or return it,” Smith said.

“In fact, it’s never been recovered,” he said.

The 2018 Toyota 4Runner was purchased June 18, 2019, at KarMART Volkswagen of Maui by Akuna, who presented the driver’s license that was in the name of a Florida man but with Akuna’s photo, police said.

At the time, Akuna was homeless and used the vehicle as shelter, said Deputy Public Defender Heather Wolfenbarger.

Although Akuna signed the name “Robert” on a letter to the court, the defendant asked to be called “Robbie” and to be referred to as a woman, Wolfenbarger said in court May 20.

Since the arrest, Akuna has been working, sober and law-abiding, Wolfenbarger said.

She referred to a failed drug test April 15 as “unsurprising.”

“Relapses do happen,” Wolfenbarger said. “She is working to turn her life around.”

Second Circuit Judge Kelsey Kawano followed a plea agreement between the defense and prosecution in sentencing Akuna to the agreed-upon jail term.

Kawano said a report prepared for the sentencing “paints a dichotomous picture.”

He said the crime required “smartness, planning, adroitness in accessing the dark web.”

A letter from Akuna’s employer said the “small business owes its continued survival for the past 16 months primarily due to your efforts,” Kawano told Akuna.

The judge noted that the crimes occurred about two weeks before Akuna was to be resentenced in another case.

Akuna, who previously spent more than a month in jail, was allowed to turn herself in May 21 to serve the rest of the jail term. Akuna was ordered to pay $40,121 in restitution.

In a 2018 case, Akuna was resentenced to a one-year jail term, to be served at the same time, and four years’ probation for unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle.

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

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