LIHUE — A pair of co-defendants who squatted in the former home of a retired judge were fined $28,000 Wednesday in 5th Circuit Court.
Gerald Matsunaga, a former Kauai Administrative District Judge who retired in 1998, said the home had been unoccupied for 20 years but was still furnished with family belongings, including several sentimental items that wound up missing.
Besides that, he said, the unwanted tenants damaged the Lihue home.
Some of the more sentimental items that went missing were a pellet gun and a gold coin that had been in Matsunaga’s wife’s family for over 100 years, while the squatters moved in their own items and even left human waste among the garbage.
“The photos speak for themselves your honor,” Matsunaga said in court to Judge Kathleen Watanabe.
Elizabeth Gayer, 50, of Lihue, was arrested for second-degree burglary and three counts of second-degree criminal trespassing on Nov. 29, 2013. Her co-defendant, Chad George Schaefer, 51, of Lihue, was arrested for first-degree burglary around the same time.
Both defendants pleaded no contest to second-degree burglary on April 14.
“I can’t even imagine the violation that Mr. Matsunaga and his family have endured because of your actions,” Watanabe told the defendants.
County Second Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Vogt presented a restitution amount based on stolen items for $1,901.68.
Watanabe ordered both defendants jointly responsible for $28,556.53 in restitution, meaning the pair must come up with the total together.
She also sentenced both to four years of felony probation and a year in jail with credit for time served.
School crossing guards noticed people going in and out of the house and notified Matsunaga, who replaced the locks but the people returned and forced their way in.
In their statements to the court, both defendants apologized to Matsunaga.
Gayer said she stayed at the home on one occasion and was shocked when she returned later that month to see the damage done by other squatters she did not know. She took responsibility for the damage but wanted Matsunaga to know she never intended to damage the property.
“I tried to clean it up,” she said. “I thought it would help.”
Schaefer said he was only there for two days. He was homeless, had the flu and was on a bender for the first time in years after his fiancé had died.
“I truly apologize for going into your residence and I am sorry for any damage that I may have caused,” he said.