A 44-year-old man faces a maximum of 25 years in prison and $50,000 in fines for taking business checks out of a truck, writing checks to himself, and cashing them.
Michael Lee Hamilton, 44, pleaded guilty to five counts of second-degree theft on Monday before Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Watanabe.
Hamilton’s jury trial was scheduled to have begun yesterday.
Watanabe did not accept Hamilton’s guilty pleas, and ordered a pre-sentencing investigation. Watanabe will take the results of the investigation into consideration when sentencing Hamil- Hamilton on Jan. 25, 2006.
If convicted of all counts, Hamilton could be in prison for 25 years, and face $50,000 in fines, since each felony count carries a maximum prison time of five years and a $10,000 fine.
Hamilton said he pleaded guilty because he wanted to take responsibility for his actions.
According to court records, Hamilton wrote a series of checks to himself starting July 22, 2004, through Aug. 13, 2004, for a total of $3,405.
The checks were from operators of Powermaster, a Hanalei-based business that installs and cleans blinds, as well as cleans business offices and buildings.
According to court records, Hamilton, of Hanalei, was arrested Dec. 2, 2004.
Hamilton was originally charged with nine counts of second-degree forgery, five counts of second-degree theft, and four counts of third-degree theft.
The investigation into the case started in August 2004, when business owner Eric Hamm was notified by an official at the Princeville branch of Bank of Hawaii that his business account was overdrawn.
The bank official also told Hamm that checks were written to Hamilton, and cashed at the Princeville branch.
However, according to court papers, Hamm told the bank official that he did not write any checks to Hamilton.
Hamm got copies of the canceled checks, and he found out that his signature was forged on the checks.
According to court records, Hamm suspected that Hamilton went into his truck and stole the blank business checks.
Hamm and Hamilton know each other, according to court records.
. Cynthia Kaneshiro, staff writer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or firstname.lastname@example.org