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Prison ordered for man who drove stolen truck in burglaries

WAILUKU– A man with a criminal past was sentenced Oct. 14 to five years in prison for driving a stolen pickup truck to burglarize Lahaina businesses during a “one-night crime spree.”

“The court cannot get away from the defendant’s extensive criminal record,” 2nd Circuit Judge Kelsey Kawano said in sentencing Na Alii Peralta, 46, of Kahului. “It just struck the court that this defendant is, in essence, a career criminal.”

Kawano said Peralta has 22 prior convictions and had not benefited from previous prison sentences.

Peralta and another man were arrested after the string of burglaries July 22, 2020, when a stolen Dodge Ram truck was used to ram into doors to break into businesses, police reported. Cash, checks and other property were stolen from the businesses.

Peralta had pleaded no contest to unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, four counts of second-degree burglary and attempted second-degree burglary.

Deputy Prosecutor Johann Smith said Peralta previously had served three prison sentences, starting in 1997 when he was sentenced to a 10-year prison term for manslaughter for causing the death of a cellmate.

At the time, Peralta said he was 19 and had been in jail for 10 days when was using the urinal and a cellmate “came after me.”

“I panicked. I swung” in self-defense, Peralta said.

“I’m not a killer,” he said.

After that, in 2007, he was sentenced to five years in prison in two criminal cases for unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, unauthorized possession of confidential personal information, unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle and third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, Smith said.

After being released from prison in 2012, Peralta was arrested for violating an order for protection in 2013, then for third-degree assault in 2014, Smith said.

He said Peralta was placed on probation in 2015 for unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle in two cases, but violated terms of his probation and was resentenced to prison.

He was paroled and released from prison in 2018, less than two years before being arrested for the Lahaina burglaries, Smith said.

While Peralta reported he wasn’t involved in drugs and alcohol, his co-defendant said he and Peralta had smoked methamphetamine before the burglaries, Smith said.

When police arrested Peralta two days after the burglaries while he was near the stolen truck in the parking lot of Harbor Lights Condominiums in Kahului, he had “a big wad of cash in his pocket stolen from these businesses,” Smith said.

He said Peralta was seen on surveillance video in some of the crimes.

“He has shown by his own choices and conduct that he is either incapable or unwilling to live peacefully among us,” Smith said in arguing that Peralta be sentenced to prison.

Peralta asked to be placed on probation, which he said he hadn’t sought when he was sentenced in the past.

With a criminal history dating to when he was 13 years old, Peralta once described himself, sadly, as “beyond institutionalized,” said Deputy Public Defender Ben Lowenthal.

He said Peralta, who has already spent more than one year in jail, could be helped by probation.

When he was released on parole, he got a job and “was leading a law-abiding life,” Lowenthal said.

Peralta said he had been working and was a supervisor for a company. “My downfall is letting people’s jealousy or negativity get in the way of being blessed,” he said.

If given another chance on probation, “I giving up every underground tie and activity there is in my life,” Peralta said.

Judge Kawano said the issue was whether Peralta should be sentenced to concurrent or consecutive five-year prison terms for the crimes.

“The defendant, during a one-night crime spree, burglarized businesses, driving around in a stolen pickup truck, breaking into these establishments, damaging property, stealing items,” Kawano said.

As part of the concurrent sentence, Peralta was ordered to pay $3,188 in restitution. The total included $2,188 to Teddy’s Bigger Burgers to replace a door broken in the attempted burglary, $500 to The Mind’s Eye Interiors for damage to a glass door and $500 to Mala Ocean Tavern for cash stolen from a register.

He was ordered to pay the restitution along with co-defendant Adam Heaps, who was placed on four years’ probation for his role in the burglaries.

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

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