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Councilman gets stolen iPad back

LIHUE — A Kapaa woman who took an iPad that belonged to the County Council pleaded no contest to a second-degree theft charge on Thursday in 5th Circuit Court.

In exchange for accepting the plea deal, the state agreed to ask for felony probation and up to 30 days in jail for Karin Lehua Ho, 46, and not to pursue a possible prison term for the felony. Ho also agreed to write a letter of apology to County Council Vice Chair Mason Chock — as it was his Apple iPad 2 she was convicted of taking on Jan. 31.

Chock said that he had set his iPad on a counter along with the gear of other Island School students during a work day for the Malama Huleia project to help remove shoreline mangrove in the Nawiliwili Harbor area behind the Niumalu Pavilion. The project is to revitalize the Ainakumuwai watershed.

The items were left somewhat unsecured for about 45 minutes when Chock estimated the theft occurred.

“One of the kids said she saw a woman look at the counter and iPad, then walked by a couple times before picking it up and walking away,” Chock said Thursday. “It is part my fault for leaving something out like that for someone to steal.”

Chock contacted the County IT office and they were able to locate the iPad through the tracking devices installed in county iPads. It had already changed hands or possibly was sold by that point, Chock added, and he wasn’t aware that a felony information complaint had ever been filed in the matter or that Ho was arrested on May 5.

Chock said he was new to the council at the time and not much information was in the iPad. He said most confidential information is discussed and kept at the council offices and he does not keep them on his personal equipment.

“I am pretty transparent, but I also didn’t intend for someone to steal the iPad,” he added.

The iPad has since been returned to Chock.

Court-appointed defense attorney Mark Zenger said Ho has already served 60 days awaiting trial at Kauai County Correction Center. He asked the court for instant sentencing given that she has already served double the state’s recommended sentence.

Chief Judge Randal Valenciano denied the motion to ensure the court would have an updated pre-sentence diagnostics report for sentencing.

He agreed to reduce Ho’s bail from $5,000 to $100 to put her in a better position to bail out awaiting the sentencing hearing set for Oct. 23.

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