WAILUKU - In what a judge called "the deal of the century," a woman with more than 100 prior arrests was placed on probation Friday for a series of thefts.
In a rare instance, 2nd Circuit Judge Richard Bissen said he had agreed to follow a plea agreement between the defense and prosecution in sentencing Brianita Hoopai, 48, of Makawao.
Bissen said he committed to following the plea agreement before seeing a presentence investigation report, produced afterward, detailing Hoopai's background, which includes 122 arrests and 29 felony convictions.
"I would have to say if I had not agreed to this sentence, you would not be receiving this sentence today," Bissen told Hoopai on Friday. "This is probably the deal of the century."
Hoopai had pleaded no contest to 31 charges in four cases. The counts included unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, nine counts of second-degree theft, seven counts of second-degree identity theft, unauthorized possession of confidential personal information, eight counts of fraudulent use of a credit card, three counts of theft of a credit card, third-degree identity theft and third-degree theft.
According to court records, Hoopai was seen on surveillance video at the Kihei Safeway on Aug. 3, 2010, stealing a purse containing a driver's license later used to open a Sears account to make more than $1,400 in purchases.
On July 20, 2011, she was seen taking 22 video games from Sears and fleeing. Other charges stemmed from the use of a woman's stolen bank card to make purchases at Home Depot, Kmart and Walgreen's in September and October 2011.
On Feb. 7, police said Hoopai sped off in a silver convertible Camaro stolen from Budget Rent A Car and later turned it over to her husband, George Hoopai. His and her identifications were found in the vehicle when it was located a half-hour later, police said.
"It was incredible to read that one person could be involved in so much crime in our community - involved because you were forced to be involved at the time or agreed to be involved, depending on the level of intoxication or substance abuse you were under," Bissen told Hoopai.
When he released her on supervision after more than three months in jail, Bissen said he wasn't hopeful. But the judge said he was proud of Hoopai after reading letters from her therapists and counselors. Hoopai has had clean drug tests since July, Bissen said, in probably the longest time she has stayed sober.
Hoopai's plea agreement called for probation and no additional jail.
"We have done this for her family," said Deputy Prosecutor Lewis Littlepage. "We hope she does not abuse this chance."
Deputy Public Defender Shelly Miyashiro said Hoopai was trying to make changes in her life.
"This is the opportunity to improve myself," Hoopai said in court. "I will do my best to do my best."
Bissen said it was appropriate that Hoopai was sentenced in the first week of the new year.
"I think you are pressing a restart button, if there's such a thing in life," Bissen told Hoopai. "The only way you're going to succeed is if you constantly remind yourself of what you've done. Your margin of error is very, very slim."
Hoopai was ordered to pay $7,498 in restitution as part of her probation.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.