Jail and probation for copper theft

LIHUE — Stealing copper from an old sugar mill got a Lihue man nine months jail and felony probation on Thursday in 5th Circuit Court.

Shawn Kamaka Cremer, 30, will serve four years with Hawaii Opportunity Probation with Enforcement. It is a more strongly supervised probation designed for high-risk offenders.

Chief Judge Randal Valenciano said Cremer would get credit for the more than 200 days of time served. He changed his plea from no contest to first-degree theft of copper on June 24, but the court denied his motion for deferred acceptance of the plea.

“We are running out of programs Mr. Cremer,” Valenciano said. “You did well in drug court and I hope you do well in HOPE probation.”

County Second Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Vogt said the defendant was arrested on March 25 on two counts of theft of copper from the old Kekaha sugar mill site on Feb. 17. More than 150 pounds of copper was found in the defendant’s vehicle, she said.

He was also charged with second-degree burglary and unauthorized control of a privately-owned vehicle.

The co-defendant, Lawrence Benjamin Kukonu Jr., 44, of Waimea, was arrested on March 8 for driving without a license, second-degree burglary and theft of copper. He changed his plea in June and was admitted to Kauai drug court.

Court-appointed defense attorney Michael Soong said Cremer was a graduate of the first Kauai drug class and that it is a shame to see him re-offend. He is a good person who slipped back into the court system after committing crimes to feed a dependency to methamphetamine, Soong said.

The drug addiction is the underlying issue and Cremer is trying to enter a rehab center, Soong said. With no prior felony convictions, he asked the court for probation and up to six months jail.

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