Fine for theft of copper from Coco Palms

LIHUE — A former Kauai resident was sentenced to felony probation and fined for taking copper from the Coco Palms property in 2011.

Warren Alan Kobayashi, 67, formerly of Kapaa, was arrested the early evening of Dec. 3, 2011 for second-degree criminal trespass and theft of copper. He said in court on Wednesday he discovered strips of copper pipe that were stacked and tied outside the fenced property near the drainage canal.

Defense attorney Dan Hempey said the defendant is retired and his hobby became scavenging. At the time he was looking for loose hinges in a field of debris and came across the copper and returned with his truck to pick it up.

“The copper was cut, stacked and wrapped in duck tape,” said Judge Kathleen Watanabe.

The judge said that after officers questioned Kobayashi about his statements he then said that the “officer was right.”

Kobayashi replied he didn’t step onto the property. He said he found the copper wrapped up near the drainage canal on the outside of the fence. He drove his truck back to get it and that is when the police drove up and questioned him.

“It was a poor decision and I apologize,” Kobayashi said.

The defendant made no attempt to run or hide when police stopped to question him, Hempey said. He is remorseful and with his poor health he asked the court to waive any minimum jail time of a few days.

“The criminal intent is minimal,” Hempey said.

County Second Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Vogt said the defendant was found with tools and pieces of copper pipe outside the property. She said he is remorseful and has only one prior misdemeanor offense dating back to 1967.

Vogt recommended time served with probation and a fine. She also recommended that the state grant the motion for deferred acceptance of the guilty plea.

Kobayashi changed his plea to guilty of felony theft of copper on June 23, 2013. Charges of fourth-degree theft, and second-degree criminal trespass were dismissed.

Watanabe granted the deferred motion to defer acceptance of guilty plea, which means that Kobayashi will be able to request the felony charge be cleared from his record upon successful completion of probation.

Kobayashi has since moved off-island and his probation will be transferred to his new residence.

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