LIHUE — A Kalaheo woman was sentenced Thursday to five years in jail for a series of crimes committed in late 2017 and early 2018.
Leslie Palama, 30, pleaded no contest in July to charges stemming from six separate cases. In exchange for the plea, county prosecutors agreed to drop an ongoing drug investigation and reduce or dismiss most of the more-serious charges against Palama, who managed to rack up seven felony and three misdemeanor charges in less than two months.
Even after the charges were reduced, Palama still faced three felonies, each of which carry up to five years in jail and $10,000 in fines, as well as several misdemeanors. In the plea bargain prosecutors asked that Palama be sentenced to just six months in jail, but the judge presiding over her case did not agree.
Fifth Circuit Chief Judge Randal Valenciano does not ordinarily sign off on plea bargains, meaning he isn’t bound by their stipulations or the recommendations of prosecuting attorneys, leaving him free to hand down any sentence that falls within the statutory limitations.
In Palama’s case, Valenciano had a broad range of discretion. He could have given her as little as one month or nearly two decades in jail if he opted to make her serve the terms consecutively. Palama’s crimes can be punishable by a combined total of 18 years incarceration.
According to court documents, Palama assaulted a woman in November 2017, broke into a vehicle and stole an iPhone a month later, stole a credit card and got caught with methamphetamine the day after that, and assaulted a police officer in January of the following year.
Palama’s criminal history dates back over a decade. In 2008, she was convicted of driving on a suspended or revoked license and cited four times for not having car insurance. She was found guilty of theft that year as well, a crime she would later return to three more times. She was also convicted of assault in 2013.
Caleb Loehrer, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or email@example.com.