Man pleads guilty to arson charge

LIHU‘E — A Kapa‘a man who set his vehicle on fire in a public parking lot pleaded guilty to second-degree arson in 5th Circuit Court on Monday.

In return for not taking his case to trial, the state, represented by County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Vogt, agreed to drop a second charge of reckless endangerment against Samiuela Moala.

Moala appeared with defense attorney Rosa Flores and with the assistance of Tongan interpreter Lois Tiedmann, who has been present since his arraignment last October.

The incident occurred Oct. 24, when Moala allegedly parked his pickup truck in the parking lot of Kapa‘a Beach Park. He then reportedly doused the truck with gasoline and set it on fire while it was parked just one space away from an occupied vehicle.

Kaua‘i Fire Department personnel responded to the scene, extinguished the fire and turned the investigation over to police. No injuries were reported, Moala was located a short time later and arrested by Kaua‘i police.

Sentencing for Moala is scheduled May 24 before Chief Judge Randal Valenciano. Second-degree arson is a class B felony offense, and Moala faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or by emailing tlaventure@thegardenisland.com.

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