Anahola man gets probation for trying to trade stolen goods

LIHUE — An Anahola man found out there is no distancing yourself from someone else’s burglary if you participate in trying to trade the stolen goods.

Aliki Kamahana Peleketi, 19, was given a one-year term of probation with time served on Thursday in 5th Circuit Court. It was for his role in the burglary and theft of an Anahola vacation rental on Feb. 8, 2013.

“While he was not the primary bad actor in this case and did not participate in the burglary, he was a willing participant in trying to trade the stolen goods,” said County Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar. “However, he’s accepted responsibility and will have the opportunity to prove by his actions that he will not reoffend.”

Kollar, filling in for Second Deputy Prosecutor Rebecca Vogt, said Peleketi was involved in the trade of stolen goods two other co-defendants obtained by committing a break-in. The culprits attempted to trade the electronics for a truck using Craig’s List. The truck owner became suspicious and arranged for the trade after alerting police, which led to two arrests for first-degree theft on Feb. 11, 2013.

The victims were professional wedding photographer and videographer Nathan Nowack and Erich Chen, who had $20,000 worth of cameras, laptops and other items taken from their beach house.

Nowak contacted The Garden Island to place notice about the items in an attempt to retrieve them. They wanted at least to get back the video and photos from the Maui wedding they worked at a few days before the theft.

Nowak and newlyweds, Arnel and Kristen Manegdeg, gathered a $2,000 reward that was collected by persons who brought information leading to the safe return of the images and most of the items. Peleketi is now jointly and severally liable with the co-defendants for payment of restitution in the amount of $1,999 to Chen and $554.40 to Nowak.

The co-defendants include Ocean Kaimana Haire, 19, of Kapaa, who was arrested the same day and charged with first-degree theft. His motion for a deferred acceptance of a no contest plea with a four-year term of probation was granted with credit for time served on Dec. 5, 2013.

A third suspect was apprehended as a juvenile. His case was dealt with in Family Court.

Chief Judge Randal Valenciano said even if he could not be sure about the level of involvement, it was clear Peleketi was a willingly participant.

“You knew what you were doing and didn’t distance yourself from the situation,” Valenciano said.

Valenciano gave Peleketi credit for having already served 122 days in jail. He said it was a missed court date that resulted in the December bench warrant and additional time behind bars with the increased bail amount.

“That was your own doing for not showing up for court,” Valenciano said.

Court-appointed defense attorney Catherine Dennemeyer said Peleketi was the least culpable of the co-defendants. He involved himself only in the attempted online trade.

Peleketi changed his plea to no contest to the reduced charge of misdemeanor third-degree theft on March 17. At that time, the court granted Dennemeyer’s motion for lowering the $20,000 bail given the plea to a reduced charge.

The judge said time would tell if Peleketi chose to turn his life around and distance himself from these kinds of activities. His age and lack of an adult record were also factors in the court’s decision to grant a deferred acceptance of a no-contest plea.

After a one-year term of probation, Peleketi may ask the court to remove the conviction from his criminal record.

“I am going to give you this opportunity,” Valenciano said.

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