Man gets 5 years for victimizing elderly couple

LIHUE — A Kapaa man who stole from an elderly couple that hired him was sentenced to five years in prison on Wednesday in 5th Circuit Court.

Shawn Fajardo, 31, was sentenced to a full prison term for second-degree theft. He stole personal checks from the couple he was hired to help move into their new home.

“This was an egregious violation of trust from people who depended on you,” Judge Kathleen Watanabe said in court.

Speaking to the victim who was in court, Fajardo offered condolences in the passing of her spouse a few months back. He didn’t learn of his death until reading the police report with his attorney.

“It doesn’t mean much now,” Fajardo said, “but I am sorry.”

“I want to take responsibility for betraying my loving neighbors and to tell them that I am really sorry,” he said.

Watanabe said she appreciated the apologetic remarks as sincere. However, she said it fell short of making amends for taking advantage of the couple.

Speaking to the court, the victim said she and her husband moved to the Kapaa neighborhood just over a year ago and a neighbor recommended Fajardo to help them. It was some time before she realized that two boxes of checks were taken, and their bank account emptied.

She kept the secret from her ailing husband and their neighbor. What really hurt, she added, was that the crimes were committed all while presenting himself as a giving person in the spirit of aloha. He was assertive in asking for chores to do and they accommodated him.

This caused so much stress, she said, and not to just her but to her neighbors who now double-lock their doors and don’t talk to strangers. She appreciated the defendant’s apology but said it doesn’t make up for the stress and fear she now lives with from the past year.

“Sorry doesn’t help,” she said. “I couldn’t tell my 90-year-old husband who was sick and dying.”

State Deputy Public Defender Samuel Jajich asked the court to consider the defendant’s past performance on probation and that he has already served 90 days in another matter. He asked for probation and up to a year in jail with credit for the 233 days already served.

This is a common theme of methamphetamine addiction when an otherwise good person will have no consideration for the law or others while they are high, he added. He has shown an ability and willingness to change.

County Second Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Vogt asked for the full prison term. She said the defendant has had the opportunity for  drug court, probation and in-patient rehabilitation programs in the past and yet continues to reoffend with growing severity. Fajardo changed his plea to guilty to felony second-degree theft on May 15. Charges of fourth-degree theft, identity theft, second-degree identity theft and second-degree forgery were dismissed.

First Hawaiian Bank restored the bank account of the victim and the court ordered restitution to the bank for one personal check written against the couple’s account in the amount of $422. The total amount returned to the couple by the bank was not stated but there were 26 checks written against the account in total.

Fajardo also changed his plea to guilty in a two-case deal on July 22. He pleaded to a first-degree burglary in Kapaa that resulted in theft of jewelry in February 2012.

All together the three cases includeed 12 B-felony and 30 C-felony charges to include theft, forgery, identity theft, unauthorized computer access, using a computer in the commission of a separate crime, and unauthorized possession of confidential personal information.

The second case includes thefts totaling more than $18,000 and including some from the victim in Wednesday’s case. He faces up to 10 years in prison for the class B felony at sentencing before Chief Judge Randal Valenciano on Dec. 26.

• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0424 or by emailing tlaventure@thegardenisland.com.

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