Man sentenced in Kapaa bank robbery

LIHUE — The man who robbed a downtown Kapaa bank earlier this year was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Thursday in 5th Circuit Court.

Joshua Michael Carlsen, 37, will serve at least six years and eight months before the state Paroling Authority can consider an early release for the former California resident. It is a mandatory minimum sentence for someone convicted of multiple felony offenses.

“We thank the investigators that made this successful prosecution possible,” said County Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar. “We are satisfied that this defendant will spend a lengthy amount of time in prison, where he will be unable to inflict any more harm on this community.”

Carlsen was indicted for second-degree robbery of the Bank of Hawaii — Kapaa branch. He pleaded no contest to second-degree robbery in June, with the state agreeing not to ask for a 20-year enhanced sentence for the B felony charge.

Chief Judge Randal Valenciano said there were not many options with sentencing due to the severity of the crime and with Carlsen’s prior criminal history.

“You came to Hawaii to try and make a change and unfortunately you were not able to do so,” Valenciano said.

Sometime between 12:50 and 1 p.m. on Jan. 29, Carlsen allegedly entered the bank with a hood pulled up and presented a note demanding money, indicating but not showing a gun, to compel money from the teller before escaping on foot.

Carlsen was arrested late that night along Kuhio Highway, just blocks from his Hauaala Road home.

County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Melinda Mendes said that Carlsen’s admission to the robbery in the pre-sentence diagnostics report should end any doubt that he didn’t commit the crime.

“Hopefully, that will put any question to rest with people who believe Carlsen was being railroaded,” Mendes said.

Police officers retrieved $5,074 from Carlsen’s home following the robbery. Another $2,914.72 was missing and the court ordered standing restitution for Carlsen to repay that amount to the bank.

Mendes said there was video footage of Carlsen at a convenience store, and he also attempted to schedule a flight off-island prior to his arrest. That might explain where some of the money went, she said.

She said the teller who encountered Carlsen quit her job not long after the daylight robbery. 

Mendes said Carlsen’s criminal background in California is what brought the mandatory minimum condition in the plea deal as a repeat offender.

In 2011, Carlsen was sent to prison for an attempted murder conviction, and in 2002 he served time on a heroin charge.

State Deputy Public Defender Samuel Jajich described Carlsen as “insightful and respectful” in their meetings.

Jajich said Carlsen’s life is a series of unfortunate circumstances and the young man who took responsibility in the matter will still be a young man when he gets out of prison, with plans for a good life for himself and his children.

Carlsen made no statements to the court. He remains in custody at Kauai Community Correction Center until the Department of Public Safety determines where he will serve his sentence.


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