Teacher gets 4 years for dealing 'ice'
Lee Anzai's sentence for dealing meth is reduced because he had no prior record
A former Leilehua High School special education teacher was sentenced to four years in federal prison for dealing nearly a pound of methamphetamine last year.
Lee Nobuo Anzai, 30, a former Hawaii Pacific University baseball standout, faced a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison but qualified for a lesser sentence because he had no previous criminal history and no gun was involved.
U.S. District Judge Michael Seabright also granted the government's request to credit Anzai with a reduction in his sentence for his cooperation with the government.
A former high school teacher will serve four years in prison after a federal judge yesterday noted his "double life" as an upstanding citizen and admitted drug dealer.
The sentence was far less than the 10-year mandatory minimum, a reduction allowed in part because the defendant cooperated with authorities and had no criminal record.
"I don't think I've seen an individual live such a successful double life," said U.S. District Judge Michael Seabright in sentencing Lee Nobuo Anzai, a former Leilehua High School special education teacher and former Hawaii Pacific University baseball standout.
Anzai pleaded guilty in December to one count of possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. He admitted to selling 14 to 15 ounces of meth to an undercover officer and had another 3 ounces of meth on him.
Anzai had faced a mandatory minimum of 10 years, but qualified for a "safety valve" that allows a judge to go below the mandatory minimum if the defendant meets certain criteria, such as no prior criminal history and if there is no firearm involved.
Seabright also granted the government's request to credit Anzai with a reduction in his sentence for his cooperation with the government from the time of his arrest Oct. 10.
Anzai had a serious and longtime drug addiction, using drugs almost daily and then selling drugs to make money to feed his habit, Seabright said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Florence Nakakuni argued for a 4 1/2-year term, noting that despite the fact that Anzai came from a good family, was a gifted athlete, finished college and became a teacher, he ended up dealing drugs.
"It must have been the drug addiction that got him into drug dealing," she said.
Seabright said that Anzai participated in six drug deals involving a total of 400 grams of meth and that he acted with sophistication.
Transcripts of the conversations between Anzai and the undercover officer show he was not a novice at what he was doing, Seabright said.
Anzai even told the undercover officer he was a teacher to show that he wasn't a police officer setting him up and could be trusted. And on at least one occasion, Anzai called the undercover officer from his high school classroom about five minutes before the bell rang to discuss the drug deal, Seabright said.
Defense attorney Howard Luke argued for a lesser sentence than requested by the government, saying Anzai has successfully completed the residential Hina Mauka substance-abuse program and understands he must serve some time. Since his arrest, Anzai has continued to work and volunteer in the community.
Anzai apologized yesterday in court to his family, friends and the community.
"I admit that I did wrong and accept full responsibility, and with that responsibility I'll take whatever this court gives me," he said.
He called his ordeal since his arrest "a blessing" and thanked the court for allowing him to participate in drug treatment.
He said it allowed him to see life more clearly and the most important priorities in his life -- being a good husband and good father to his young son.
Anzai remained free on bail yesterday and is required to turn himself in to a facility designated by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons on July 24.