LIHU‘E — A Waimea man was sentenced to five years in prison Wednesday in 5th Circuit Court for writing bad checks.
Kougi Floyd Malone appeared on two theft cases for writing seven checks totaling more than $4,000 against a closed account.
“Today is judgment day for all of the wrong choices that you made,” Judge Kathleen Watanabe said to Kougi Floyd Malone.
“We are pleased that once again, our judges are sending a clear message that these property crimes have to end,” said County Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar. “These crimes degrade the trust we place in one another in our community and we will continue to place the full weight of this office behind the shared effort to create a safer and healthier Kaua‘i for everyone.”
Sentencing was postponed last week after defense attorney Mark Zenger asked the court to consider Hawai‘i Opportunity Probation with Enforcement as an alternative to prison. He said that HOPE probation was designed for people like Malone.
The 36-year-old defendant committed crimes to feed a drug habit, Zenger said.
For the first time in his adult life, he admitted to his addiction to the warden at Kaua‘i County Correctional Center and to the court. He wants help, Zenger added.
Zenger said the philosophy of sentencing should distinguish the crimes committed by addicts to feed their addiction, from those of drug dealers who prey upon the victims and commit crimes in the interest of building a criminal enterprise.
The probation department reported by phone that Malone fell short of the qualifications for HOPE probation. However, they said that he did qualify for standard probation.
County Second Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Vogt said the defendant has already served a five-year prison term for similar crimes.
She said the defendant was arrested on O‘ahu on warrants for writing more bad checks, and after he told the court it wouldn’t happen again.
The defendant claimed to be supporting his family by writing the bad checks but they were made out for jewelry and car stereo equipment, in addition to items he returned for cash, she added.
Watanabe said the state had offered a generous plea bargain on misdemeanor charges and would have dismissed many felony counts. The defendant reoffended while his case was being decided and missed court hearings.
Watanabe read a letter from the defendant’s wife saying that he was a good provider for his four children and asked for leniency.
In the end, he said the court must consider that repeated similar crimes show that the lessons of the previous prison term were not learned and that there is a likelihood of reoffending again against the community.