LIHU‘E — A Hanapepe woman was sentenced to concurrent terms of one year and five years probation for methamphetamine charges in two separate cases this week in Fifth Circuit Court.
Judge Kathleen Watanabe on Wednesday described Haidee Akemi Sueyasu, 34, as a good person in a downward spiral from a bad addiction. Chief Judge Randal Valenciano on Thursday said she is a classic example of someone who has fallen from grace.
Sueyasu was arrested in August 2010 for first-degree meth trafficking and drug paraphernalia. She was among three co-defendants named in an 18-count indictment involving meth trafficking, cocaine, amphetamine, hydrocodone, diazepam, oxycodone, marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
She was arrested twice in December 2010 for first-degree meth trafficking and other drug charges. Sueyasu pleaded no contest in Watanabe’s court on May 17, and again on May 19 in Valenciano’s court. She has been on supervised release since May 25.
Court-appointed defense attorney Chiharu Ikemoto described Sueyasu as a good mother and caregiver for her own mother. She talked about the good student and high school athlete, the University of Hawai‘i graduate who went on to work for Kaua‘i County.
Ikemoto said the downward spiral began to get out of control when she lost her job with an administration change. Hints of Sueyasu’s problems appeared first with arrests for driving under the influence and excessive speeding in 2008.
By the time of her prescription drug arrests in 2009, Sueyasu was hitting rock bottom, Ikemoto said.
Second County Prosecuting Attorney Samuel Jajich said Sueyasu didn’t hit rock bottom soon enough as she was arrested for a second drug offense while the plea deal for the first was in negotiation. It could have been pulled from the table were it not for her demonstrated sincerity and courage in facing the addiction, he said.
Sueyasu could have faced decades in prison were the sentences stacked for each charge instead of running concurrent. Her hard work in turning her life around in the months from her arrest to sentencing made all the difference, according to the judges.
Watanabe told Sueyasu that Kaua‘i police officer Alex Oliveira, who was present in court, might have saved her life when he arrested her the second time.
Sueyasu has completed 27 drug addiction class sessions and told both judges that she is concerned about completing the course next month. The addiction is so strong that even when successful in class she plans to continue attending for its positive effects and her fear of relapse.
Ikemoto said this demonstrates sincerity in taking her addiction treatment seriously. She is going beyond merely satisfying compliance of a court order.
“She is a good person with a bad addiction,” Ikemoto said.
There have been more than 50 prescription drug related cases on Kaua‘i so far this year, according to First County Prosecuting Attorney Jake Delaplane. It is now outpacing illicit drug use and is second only to alcohol and marijuana use.