Gas station manager sentenced
A former assistant manager at the Union 76 in Kaneohe was sentenced to 10 years in prison yesterday for stealing nearly $200,000, essentially putting it out of business.
Circuit Judge Virginia Crandall agreed with prosecutors that the 10-year term for Eric Calderon was appropriate because of the repetitive nature of the thefts that occurred over a seven-month period. She noted there appeared to be no clear reason for his behavior except for drug use.
Calderon, 25, pleaded guilty in November to first-degree theft for stealing cash receipts that he was supposed to deposit after the end of his shift.
Deputy Prosecutor Chris Van Marter said Calderon stole deposits on 200 separate occasions over seven months. He started taking about $900 per day for the first few months beginning in October 2003. By December and January 2004, he was taking $1,000 a month. He worked every day in the month of February and stole an average of $1,000 each time he went home, Van Marter said. "What was he thinking every single night he was driving home with a safe full of cash?"
The amount of money Calderon stole is nine times the statutory threshold of $20,000 for first-degree theft.
In a statement to the court, Leon Mathieu, security director for ConocoPhillips, which owns Union 76 Phillips Petroleum, said that the loss caused the store to go so far in the red that it would take years for it to ever break even and start making a profit again.
"In essence, the theft put this store out of business, which translates to displacement of other store employees that lost their jobs," Mathieu wrote in a letter to the court. "He betrayed the trust placed in him and subsequently tarnished the exemplary records of his supervisors by his selfish, criminal actions."
Calderon has made no effort to repay the stolen money, he said.
Deputy public defender Tyrus Buyama argued for probation but said Calderon understands if he is ordered to prison.
Calderon, the father of two, apologized to the court for his conduct, saying he understands the gravity of what he did. "I no longer do drugs and I rarely drink -- the last time was two months ago," he said. He began tearing up as he talked about his children.
Calderon's conduct came to light after an internal audit in June 2004 revealed that more than $15,000 was missing. A later audit showed that Calderon failed to make 200 deposits totaling more than $188,000.