Drug charges bring Asaoka 10 years

LIHU‘E — Years of repeated drug abuse cost a Lihu‘e man a decade in prison as he ran out of options Wednesday in 5th Circuit Court.

Mark Kanao Asaoka, 46, was sentenced to 10 years for a reduced count of second-degree promotion of a dangerous drug and 5 years for a drug paraphernalia charge in a separate case.

Judge Kathleen Watanabe said the plea deal was generous in dropping charges of third-degree promotion of a detrimental drug, third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, drug paraphernalia, and promotion of a controlled substance in both cases. She also ordered a $2,000 drug assessment at Asaoka’s expense.

Defense attorney Rosa Flores requested a continuance until it could be determined how charges in a new case could be rolled into the plea bargain. She said Asaoka knew there would be jail time and asked for probation with 18 months incarceration, where he could perhaps stay clean and allow his body a chance to heal.

County Second Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Samuel Jajich said that while released awaiting sentencing, the defendant was caught up in drug buy set up by police. He objected to the continuance, noting that the methamphetamine possession was in an amount greater than expected for personal use.

Jajich said that Asaoka’s previous methamphetamine conviction resulted in a five-year open sentence. He was paroled after a year and a half, but violations resulted in serving the entire sentence until released in 2000.

Asaoka was arrested on June 2010 for first-degree methamphetamine trafficking, third-degree promotion of a detrimental drug, unlawful use of or possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia.

Flores said Asaoka was caring for his father until his passing two weeks ago. She said he also suffers from heart congestion and is on a transplant list. His heart is not expected to last another three years, she said.

Watanabe denied the request for a continuance, noting that the Asaoka case has been delayed numerous times since the September 2010 arraignment. He entered a change of plea to guilty on Feb. 27, 2012.

Asaoka faced a possible 30-year prison term with no mandatory minimum.

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