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Man ‘wreaking havoc’ will serve five years in prison

He pleaded no contest to charges stemming from confrontation with store clerk

WAILUKU — A man who a judge said has “been wreaking havoc in this community,” was ordered to serve five years in prison on Wednesday for threatening a store clerk with a wooden staff while shoplifting.

Judge Blaine Kobayashi elected not to follow a plea agreement for probation for 52-year-old Douglas Fernandez, and instead ordered the five-year prison term, noting Fernandez’s prior record and poor performance on probation.

“Mr. Fernandez for over 20 years now, dating back to at least 1998, you have been wreaking havoc in this community, by committing multiple crimes, including serous felony offenses, including a sexual offense for which you are now a registered sex offender,” Kobayashi said during sentencing. “You have been given numerous chances on probation before and for the most part you are unsuccessful all of those times, having in some of those cases, your probation revoked, not once but twice.”

Fernandez pleaded no contest to first-degree terroristic threatening and fourth-degree theft; two other charges were dismissed in accordance with the plea agreement.

The charges stem from an incident on Jan. 6. Court records show that Fernandez had a wooden staff when he went into Aloha Island Mart at 50 Pakaula St. in Kahului shortly before 5 p.m. and filled a shopping bag with merchandise. When he was confronted by a clerk, Fernandez held the staff in a threatening manner and threatened to hurt the woman if she tried to stop him, police said. He left without paying.

In a court hearing in January, a deputy prosecuting attorney said Fernandez had 22 convictions, including four felony offenses.

“You were sentenced and you have spent numerous stints in jail with all of those years as a result of your multiple prior convictions, and yet time and time again each time you get released, you did not profit or learn from those prior stints in jail,” Kobayashi said. “You stop complying with the law and you start committing crimes yet again.”

He added that Fernandez poses “a danger, a very serious danger to the community.”

“The court is not willing to put our community at risk,” the judge said.

Prior to Kobayashi handing down the sentence, Fernandez said that he learned his lesson and it would not happen again.

Deputy Public Defender Heather Wolfenbarger said at the time of the incident, Fernandez, a veteran, was not on his medication and was not being treated by a doctor.

Fernandez, who suffers from substance abuse and mental health issues, had been self-medicating with illicit drugs and was delusional, Wolfenbarger said.

“When he walked in the store that day, his only intent was to get food,” she said. “He was hungry, he did not have money available.”

She acknowledged that Fernandez did shoplift before but with his altered state of mind, he “felt threatened and reacted badly” when a store clerk confronted him on that day.

Fernandez had brought his walking stick with him into the store, she added.

Now that he’s been treated, Wolfenbarger said Fernandez is thinking clearly.

“He understands that he did wrong. He’s very sorry for what happened,” she said.

If released on probation, Fernandez was going to live with his ex-wife and seek help from Veterans Affairs. He also wanted to reunite with his children and grandchildren, Wolfenbarger said. She added that he intended to follow through with all conditions of probation.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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