Hefty drugs, hefty time

LIHUE — A drug dealer convicted of three Class B drug possession cases was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Wednesday in 5th Circuit Court.

Samuel Kanehekilimakao Lanning, 41, of Lihue, has been held at Kauai Community Correctional Center for 18 months. He was facing a possible 40-year prison term with extended sentencing.

“I know I don’t deserve anything, let alone grace,” Lanning told the judge as he asked the court to consider probation on grounds that the last 18 months in jail has helped him sober up and re-establish his priorities. “If you look at my record, it doesn’t show how much that I have changed. I am scared. Not of doing time, but of not being there for my daughter and my son.”

But Judge Kathleen Watanabe said Lanning’s multiple drug arrests showed he was a safety risk for the island.

“This places the community in danger,” Watanabe said.

Lanning was arrested on a parole violation on Feb. 1, 2010, after police found him in possession of methamphetamine. A search warrant resulted in the discovery of more methamphetamine at his home, as well as scales and other drug paraphernalia, and $2,000 in cash.

That case was still pending when police executed a warrant on Lanning’s car and found 37.7 grams of methamphetamine, baggies, a scale and $1,700 in cash on April 26, 2012. He was indicted for the offense on May 24, 2012.

Lanning made bail that June and two months later he was in a car accident, where witnesses saw him place a backpack in a nearby garage before police arrived. Police later found 47 grams of methamphetamine, Lanning’s credit cards and $4,700 in cash in the backpack.

That amount of drugs is more than for personal use and, together with the other items, shows that Lanning was dealing, County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jennifer Winn said. She added Lanning had fled the jurisdiction and had to be arrested in Nevada and brought back to Kauai.

Winn asked the court to sentence Lanning to two concurrent 10-year terms in the first two cases involving second-degree promotion of a dangerous drug. She asked the court to sentence a consecutive 10-year term in the third case involving second-degree promotion of a dangerous drug.

Drug dealers create addicts who commit crimes to support their habits, Winn said. Dealers need to be removed from the community and the court needs to send a message as well as deter others from this type of behavior.

“The consecutive terms are appropriate for a drug dealer,” Winn said.

Lanning was represented by court-appointed attorney Warren Perry in two of the cases and by Mark Zenger in the remaining two matters. One of the cases was dismissed as part of the plea agreement on Dec. 8.

Perry asked the court to consider HOPE probation with the incentive for Lanning to know he was facing 20 years in prison should he reoffend. 

Zenger said it was important to distinguish Lanning as a “stasher,” the type of dealer who sells to support his own addiction. Lanning was not a “baller,” the big dealer that doesn’t use and seeks out potential users in order to profit off their addiction.

He is clean and his statements are about being there for his daughter, he added.

Lanning has a criminal history that includes more than 100 contacts with law enforcement and 33 convictions. Twenty-three convictions were for criminal contempt of court, with sentences ranging from 60 hours community service to six months in jail for violating terms of bail or supervised release.

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