Man caught driving stolen car placed on probation

He was also sentenced to one year in jail, with chance for early release

WAILUKU — A man who said he would enter a residential substance abuse treatment program was placed on four years’ probation for driving a stolen car that was nearly in a collision in Lahaina.

Daniel Fuataimi, 35, who gave no local address, also was sentenced Thursday to a one-year jail term. He could be released early after he spends six months in jail if he enters treatment.

Fuataimi was arrested May 19 after he was seen driving the car that had been stolen from the Kihei Kalama Village parking lot, police said. An anonymous caller had reported the car was being driven recklessly, almost causing a collision.

The car belonged to a man Fuataimi had met after a night of drinking, police reported. Fuataimi and the car owner had gotten into a fight. After the owner was arrested, Fuataimi took the car, police said.

Deputy Public Defender Danielle Sears said Fuataimi “was trying to give the car back to the rightful owner when he could.”

He had pleaded no contest to unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle.

“We do recognize Daniel has had a hard, challenging life with many setbacks,” Deputy Prosecutor Ryan Teshima said in asking the court to follow the plea agreement recommending probation for Fuataimi. “That doesn’t justify criminal behavior, behavior that hurts other people or hurts other people’s property.

“We hope that Daniel succeeds at his rehabilitation, that he doesn’t commit any further crimes because this is the last chance for him.”

When he was arrested, Fuataimi was on probation for two counts each of first-degree criminal property damage and second-degree assault. He was reported to be “highly intoxicated” when he threw a large rock at a car that had entered the Liloa Drive roundabout in Kihei on Jan. 19, 2019. The rock shattered the driver’s side window, striking the driver, who was injured.

Fauatimi told police he was having a bad day.

That response was “lacking any acknowledgment of the nature or seriousness of the crime,” said 2nd Circuit Judge Kelsey Kawano.

“The defendant basically is a violent, out-of-control 35-year-old with a severe alcohol dependency problem,” Kawano said.

He referred to Fuataimi’s “long criminal history beginning when he was 13 years old” and his reported “very poor” compliance while on probation.

Before his latest arrest, Fuataimi hadn’t been in contact with his probation officer, Kawano noted. He said Fuataimi was supposed to enter a residential treatment program in March but didn’t do so.

The judge asked Fuatimi if he was “ready, willing and able to follow through” this time.

Fuataimi said yes.

“Commit yourself to the residential program,” Kawano told Fuataimi. “Complete the program. Gain the tools you need to change your life. Become a useful and productive member of our community.”

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


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