Kauai meth dealer gets 10 years

LIHUE — A Kauai meth dealer charged in a number of drug cases, including one by the federal government, was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Fifth Circuit Court judge.

Bronson Lee Balino was one of five Kauai residents indicted on federal drug charges in August 2015 after a raid that involved about 60 law enforcement officers.

Fifth Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Watanabe sentenced Balino on Wednesday to four 10-year prison terms and 11 five-year prison terms to run concurrent with a federal sentence in which he was already serving nine years after his probation was revoked.

During sentencing, Balino apologized to Kauai families for supplying drugs. He also praised the drug court program.

“Drug court is a good program, but it’s up to the individual,” he said. “I got caught up in something and it cost me a lot. It’s not just me, but families out there that I provided drugs to. My own family as well. The sentencing is not only my sentencing, but my kids and my wife. They are the ones that are really suffering.”

Balino, who had been drug court since 2013 and was held in a federal detention center since last August, was terminated from drug court Wednesday after he was unable to complete it due to a sentence in federal court.

Due to his termination from drug court, Balino violated the terms of his probation. The state filed motions for revocation of his probation.

Eight of Balino’s criminal cases from Kauai were tied into his drug court termination.

His defense attorneys, Craig De Costa, Warren Perry and deputy public defender Stephanie Char, noted that the underlying basis for his termination from drug court was because he could not participate in drug court after being picked up on federal charges in August.

The recent sentencing in federal court sealed the deal, they said.

After sentencing, Watanabe reminded Balino he should take advantage of treatment programs while incarcerated.

“Follow through and take advantage of all the training and opportunities,” Watanabe said. “Turn things around when you get out. Take care of your family.”

Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar said drug dealers have no place on Kauai.

“Balino’s long life of criminality has finally caught up with him,” Kollar said. “The ice dealers in our community are predators who must be stopped and who will be stopped.”

According to a nine-page federal indictment filed in August, 32-year-old Bronson Balino, 35-year-old James Everett Balino, 43-year-old Rodney Cremer, 25-year-old Sonya Tupou and 44-year-old Gared Makaiau knowingly and intentionally possessed with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers and salts of its isomers between July 24 and Dec. 23, 2014.

Bronson Balino pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine on July 25.

According to court records, Balino began buying quarter-pound quantities of methamphetamine from Cremer for $12,000 in 2011. He then began buying the drugs from his brother, James Balino.

In 2014, Bronson Balino sold 112 grams of methamphetamine to a federal agent on one occasion and half a pound another time, records showed.

Balino, who is in federal custody, was sentenced to 110 months in prison in late July.

He is to be taken by the U.S. Marshals and placed at the Federal Correctional Institution Sheridan, a medium security federal prison with an adjacent minimum security satellite camp and a detention center in Oregon, according to the judgment in Balino’s criminal case.

Part of the conditions of his imprisonment include that he be enrolled in educational and vocational programs and be placed in 500 hours of a residential drug abuse program.

He is ineligible for probation, but will be on supervised release for five years after he is released from federal prison.

Some of his co-defendants are awaiting sentencing.

“Makaiau and Tupou received sentences of 63 months and 36 months, respectively,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Elliot Enoki.

Enoki James Balino was still pending sentencing.

The attorney for Cremer has filed a motion for a bail bond hearing asking that Cremer be released on his own recognizance or in the alternative that his bail be lowered.

Prior to Cremer’s Aug. 19, 2015 arrest, he was employed for five months, records showed. The combined mortgage on his home and rental property is $5,600 and currently $20,000 behind in payments, his defense attorney said in her motion.

If Cremer is not allowed to be ROR or have his bail lowered, his attorney said Cremer’s brother, who lives on Kauai, would be willing to sign a signature bond, so that he be released on bail. Cremer is also willing to wear an ankle monitor, she said.

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