REPORT FROM KAUAI COUNTY – LĪHU’E – Two men each face possible sentences of more than a century for their roles in numerous property crimes.
On Thursday, April 18, Aron Nagao changed his plea from not guilty to no contest to 15 felony charges in 12 separate cases. Nagao appeared in front of Chief Judge Randal G.B. Valenciano and was represented by court-appointed counsels Caren Dennemeyer and John Calma. Nagao was prosecuted by Second Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca A. Vogt.
Nagao was charged in connection with a string of burglaries, car break-ins and thefts that took place between August and September of 2012, from Hanamā‘ulu to Kapa‘a. On Thursday, Nagao entered pleas of no contest to five counts of Burglary in the First Degree, Class B felonies; three counts of Unauthorized Control of a Propelled Vehicle, Class C felonies; three counts of Unauthorized Entry Into a Motor Vehicle in the First Degree, also Class C felonies; two counts of Theft in the Second Degree, Class C felonies; one count of Credit Card Theft, a Class C felony; one count of Unauthorized Possession of Confidential Personal Information, a Class C felony; one count of Criminal Property Damage in the Third Degree, a misdemeanor; and one count of Theft in the Fourth Degree, a petty misdemeanor.
The change of plea occurred pursuant to a plea agreement with the State of Hawai‘i in which the State agreed to dismiss several charges, but does not limit the amount of incarceration the State can request. If sentenced to the maximum period of incarceration, Nagao could be sentenced to over 100 years in state prison. His sentencing is scheduled for August 8, 2013 at 8 a.m. in front of Chief Judge Valenciano.
Kamron Cortez, charged as a co-defendant in several of Nagao’s cases, also faces a lengthy prison sentence for his involvement in a number of property crimes. On February 14, 2013, Cortez entered guilty or no contest pleas to 17 felonies: three counts of Burglary in the First Degree; five counts of Unauthorized Control of a Propelled Vehicle; one count of Burglary in the Second Degree, a Class C felony; seven counts of Unauthorized Entry Into a Motor Vehicle in the First Degree; and one count of Theft in the Second Degree.
Cortez also changed his plea from not guilty to no contest for another count of Theft in the Second Degree. Cortez pled in a total of 12 cases as well.
Cortez, represented by court-appointed counsel Craig De Costa, also changed his plea pursuant to a plea offer in which some charges were dismissed. There is no agreement as to sentencing in the plea offer, and if sentenced to the maximum term of incarceration could also face more than a century in state prison. His sentencing is scheduled for May 9, 2013 in front of Chief Judge Valenciano.
Prosecuting Attorney Justin F. Kollar stated, “It is our hope that our efforts make a safer community. We will continue to vigorously prosecute these offenders until the message is received that every individual in our community deserves to feel safe in their own home.”