Teacher to serve prison term


POSTED: Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A federal judge sentenced a Big Island special-education teacher yesterday to five years in prison followed by five years of supervised release for conspiring to distribute methamphetamine.

Lynn Dionise, 52, pleaded guilty to the charge in April.

U.S. District Senior Judge Susan Oki Mollway allowed Dionise to remain free on bail and to turn herself in Feb. 1 to begin her prison sentence.

Dionise is also facing state drug charges and is scheduled to appear in state court in Hilo tomorrow for a change-of-plea hearing. She is facing methamphetamine trafficking, drug and drug paraphernalia possession.

The charges stem from an April 2008 raid on her Keaukaha condominium in which Hawaii County police said they recovered 6.8 grams of methamphetamine, some marijuana and $13,245 cash in a safe in the home.

At the time, Dionise was a teacher at Keaukaha Elementary School. The state Department of Education says she is now assigned to the district office in Hilo but is on unpaid leave.

Federal agents arrested Dionise in January while she was free on bail for the state charges.

The FBI says Dionise was among a group of 10 people who brought methamphetamine into Hawaii from California in 2007 and 2008 and distributed the drugs on Oahu and the Big Island. The government said the group used Dionise's condominium as a meeting place and that Dionise used her credit card to arrange airline flights and car rentals for members of the group.

All but one of her co-defendants in the federal case have pleaded guilty.