Sentencing break sought
A former officer who stole drugs will try to prove he qualifies
Former Honolulu police officer Harold Cabbab could get nearly three years off his sentence if he can prove he was not carrying a weapon when he broke into a storage locker and stole 20 pounds of crystal methamphetamine.
U.S. District Judge Susan Mollway delayed Cabbab's sentencing yesterday to give him an opportunity to provide additional facts that show he is entitled to a so-called "safety valve," which could result in a lower prison term.
Under federal guidelines, if Cabbab qualifies for the safety valve, he faces 11 to 14 years in prison. Without it, he faces 14 to 17 1/2 years.
The safety valve is a provision under federal sentencing guidelines that allows the court to impose a sentence below the 10-year mandatory minimum for a drug offense if the defendant meets five criteria:
» The defendant is a first-time offender.
» He did not use violence or firearms.
» The offense did not result in serious injury.
» He was not an organizer, leader or supervisor in the offense.
» He has provided the government all the information he has about the offense.
Mollway said the only element that concerns her is whether Cabbab possessed a firearm at the time of the offense. Cabbab, a police officer for the past 10 years, has admitted that a firearm was at his residence when he was arrested, but has not disclosed whether he had one on him at the time of the Dec. 9 break-in.
Cabbab, 35, pleaded guilty on May 9 to possessing with intent to distribute 20 pounds of "ice" that he had stolen from a storage locker.
Prosecutors made an agreement not to argue at sentencing that he does not meet the criteria for the safety valve.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Kawahara has indicated, for reasons not told to the court, that the government is not presenting evidence on whether Cabbab possessed a firearm. That means the government is saying only that Cabbab has the burden of proving his eligibility.
"Bottom line, he must establish his entitlement to the safety valve provision," Kawahara said.
Even if he does not qualify for the safety valve, Cabbab still faces at least 10 years in prison.
Mollway also has the discretion to sentence him to less than 10 years, based on a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that made the federal sentencing guidelines advisory, not mandatory. In any case, Cabbab's defense attorney, David Klein, said it is unlikely Mollway will sentence him to probation.
"He's facing certain prison time," Klein said.
Cabbab, a former outfielder with the University of Hawaii baseball team, was arrested Dec. 10, a day after he and an unnamed acquaintance broke into the locker.
He was charged with conspiring for nearly two months to steal drugs from drug dealers in hopes of making up to $100,000. The acquaintance was a confidential informant for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Cabbab is one of three police officers who have been charged in the last year with federal drug offenses.