Kalaheo man gets probation for drug possession

LIHU‘E — A Kalaheo man received 18 months jail and five years probation for 70 charges in nine cases Wednesday in 5th Circuit Court.

Bronson Lee Balino, 28, said the worst day of his life was May 12, 2010, when he got into a car accident that nearly took the life of his then nine-year-old daughter. He was sentenced on one felony charge of first-degree negligent injury in an accident while driving under the influence of marijuana and possession of methamphetamine.

Balino told the court that his life has changed and his defense attorney, Craig De Costa, Warren Perry, Gregory Meyers and State Deputy Public Defender Stephanie Sato, all requested probation and recommended drug court.

County Second Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Samuel Jajich said that in the interest of public safety the state would strongly object. He said the sentencing does not reflect the crime and called Balino a drug dealer who was caught with scales, bags and other dealing paraphernalia on multiple occasions with methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, oxycodone and hydrocodone.

Jajich said that Balino likely earned $12,000 a month on dealing. He bailed out from each arrest on $4,000 to $54,000 in bail, and then forfeited it with another arrest on more drug possession charges.

At least two of the arrests occurred with Balino’s children in the vehicle during drug transactions, and he said police found drugs in accessible areas of the home in other busts. Other charges were for theft of credit cards, identity theft and credit card fraud.

This was not someone who learned his lesson and was trying to turn himself around, Jajich said.

He objected to offering probation or drug court and said a 10-year prison sentence was appropriate.

Represented by four defense counsel in nine cases, the attorneys said that Balino has cleaned up his act in jail for the past few months, and they said the extremely close supervision of drug court would be more beneficial than prison.

Judge Kathleen Watanabe said Balino has not had the benefit of probation or the opportunity for drug rehabilitation on past offenses.

She also based her decision on the drug court and probation service staff that approved Balino’s application.

The judge ordered drug assessment, crime victim compensation and probation fees totaling $11,175.

Balino will have to make payments as part of the terms of probation.  

Watanabe said Balino faces up to 90 years in prison should he have his probation revoked. She noted his co-defendant in one case, Andrew Hall, was doing well in drug court and expressed concern about mixing the two in that setting.

Balino received the maximum jail sentence for felony probation on each of four charges.

He was also sentenced to one-year jail for each of the 11 misdemeanors.

The charges will run concurrently and Balino will receive credit for time already served regarding each arrest.

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