CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Ricky Kenui, who in 2005 stole a tour van near Kahe Point that had several people inside, spoke with his attorney yesterday in court. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge and will serve 10 years in prison.
Man pleads guilty to theft of van full of tourists
Ricky Kenui will serve 10 years and write a newspaper apology
A Kalihi man who stole a tour van near Kahe Point as several tourists dozed inside has agreed to plead guilty to a reduced charge and serve a 10-year prison term.
As part of a plea agreement, Ricky Kenui, 37, will also submit a letter to the editors of Honolulu's two daily newspapers apologizing for his conduct and describing how he went from employed family man with no criminal record to committing felony offenses because of "ice" and redeeming himself, said his attorney, deputy public defender Theresa Marshall.
Kenui pleaded guilty yesterday before Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto to a reduced charge of second-degree robbery and auto theft for driving off with the Dolphin Excursions tour van on Jan. 18, 2005. The one adult male and three girls aboard were eventually let go, but not before Kenui threatened the adult with a knife. The van was later abandoned, but the tourists' belongings were missing.
Kenui also pleaded guilty to breaking into a truck two days later in the parking lot of Wendy's in Wahiawa and stealing a radio.
Deputy Prosecutor Kory Young said Kenui deserved some consideration because of the absence of a prior criminal history and his willingness to take responsibility and share with the public how and why his drug use led him to commit crimes.
"He's a poster child for a good person where ice eventually led him down the wrong path," Young said.
"But given the seriousness of his offenses, it's important that he and other potential offenders understand there will be serious consequences."
Marshall said Kenui, a father of five, agreed to write the letter because he viewed it as a way to "give back whatever he can."
Kenui was granted supervised release last March and has since been clinically discharged from a drug treatment program and is working. He remains free until his sentencing on May 15.
Police initially had questioned Kenui after the robbery after tips came in identifying him as being involved. He initially admitted to taking the van but later denied it. Police did not have enough on him to charge him until a woman came forward and reported that Kenui had admitted his involvement in the robbery and had asked her to cash some mainland checks for him.
After his arrest in the Wendy's car break-in, police found a towel in his car that belonged to one of the tourists in the Kahe Point robbery.