Welfare cheater sentenced in Circuit Court

In Fifth Circuit Court Thursday morning, Judge Clifford L. Nakea heard about four hours worth of cases, but that didn’t even seem to bother the several infants and children who were present in the courtroom.

Cheryl Cormier, 47, was sentenced to fraudulently obtaining about $13,000 in welfare benefits over nearly two years. She agreed to plead guilty to one count of second-degree theft and 14 of the 32 counts of falsifying eligibility documents to the state Department of Human Services.

“I ask that you not send me to jail as my health is so bad,” Cormier asked. Nakea said he wasn’t planning to send her to jail, and sentenced the woman in the shimmery blue polka-dot dress to 300 hours community service and 1 year probation. She’s also disqualified from receiving benefits for a year. As part of the deal, Cormier had to repay $3,000 and will have to pay $100 a month until the welfare overpayment is resolved.

Tammy Ka’aumoana pleaded guilty to stealing a personal check from an elderly woman she used to do grocery shopping for, and using the forged check to buy her own groceries from Cost-U-Less, the discount bulk grocery store in Kapa’a. She was indicted in February.

“I am very ashamed for what I have done. This is not how I want to raise my kids,” Ka’aumoana said. She tearfully told Nakea that she knew if the motion for probation in lieu of jail was denied, she’d lose her kids, her job and her welfare benefits.

Nakea sentenced her to no jail time, but five years of probation. She must pay $36.96 restitution to Cost-U-Less for the items they didn’t already get back, $100 to the crime victims’ compensation fund and complete 400 hours of community service.

Edward Palakiko-Kaahanui, who drove his car into a rock wall after getting into an argument with his girlfriend while they and five children were riding, was sentenced to concurrent jail terms of 8 months, 6 months and 30 days.

Palakiko-Kaahanui agreed to plead guilty to two counts of criminal property damage, two counts of assault in the second degree, and two counts of abuse of a family/household member.

Palakiko-Kaahanui will be held at KCCC for a total of 8 months, because all sentences will be served concurrently. He will be on probation for 5 years when he gets out and will pay $200 for crime victims compensation and $150 for probation services. His license will be suspended for 90 days and he’ll pay $107 to the drivers education fund.

Nakea told the young man his actions were totally selfish and out of control, and that his life would be tough if he continued on the same path. He said he was 18 when he conceived his first child, and he and his girlfriend have five children to take care of.

Jason Camarillo, 20, was sentenced to 1 year probation for terroristic threatening and 30 days in jail for abuse of a household member after he pulled a knife on his girlfriend. He’ll also pay $125 in fees to crime victims compensation and probation services.

“I’m going to kill myself, and then I’m gonna kill you,” Camarillo reportedly told the girl while stabbing a door. He’s going to have to go to AA and complete a class called “Alternatives to Violence” to help him learn to control his behavior.

Camarillo found a construction job, got off drugs in order to take care of his child and is not with his girlfriend now, though he said he might try to win her back.

Dawn Kaneholani, 27, was charged with theft and forgery for stealing a personal check from her baby-sitter’s home and on May 23, 2001, forged her name and cashed it at a bank. She reportedly gave the $420 to a friend to buy crystal methamphetamine.

Kaneholani accepted a plea deal that dropped the forgery charge and required her to pay $100. The prosecution said they would not object to sentencing her to 30 days imprisonment at KCCC and $320 restitution. The maximum for both crimes is 20 years. She will be sentenced next Jan. 16.

Kelly Francisco, 31, was sentenced to one year imprisonment and five years probation for drug-related charges of breaking his probation agreement.

Francisco reportedly didn’t show up to community service, didn’t enter a drug treatment program and tested positive for cocaine on a required drug test.

He was convicted Aug. 1 for forgery – stealing checks from a house guest and forging them to use the money for drugs.

He told Judge Nakea that he two drug tests on the same date showed one was negative, the other positive. He was not able to afford the assessments for Kaua’i’s treatment center at Hina Mauka. But after he found two jobs, he didn’t have enough time in his schedule to report to community service.

However, Francisco applied and was accepted to the O’ahu-based Habilitat center, which at three years is the longest-term program in the state. “It could be considered a way out of prison .. but they (Habilitat) are conscientious and if you can’t handle it, they report it right away,” Nakea said.

He’ll be employed in an automotive shop and learn to live drug-free. He said he’s looking forward to taking care of his kids, and knows if he doesn’t finish the program he would face jail time of five years.

Jesse Naea, 21, was sentenced to 6 months jail time and 5 years probation. He accepted a plea agreement and was convicted of two counts of negligent injury, reckless driving and false reporting. Naea was indicted in May. The charges dropped included driving under the influence of an “intoxicant,” driving with alcohol in the vehicle, filing a false accident report and speeding.

He had reportedly been speeding, skidded off the roadway, drove over an embankment, hurting himself and seriously injuring the two girls who were riding in his car. He later told police he was trying to avoid a cat.

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