Prosecutor blasts Public Safety over furlough recommendation

Thang Nguyen
Thang Nguyen

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - City prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro blasted the Department of Public Safety Wednesday over a furlough recommendation for a Halawa Correctional Facility inmate.

"This a mockery that a person who's sentenced to ten years in prison will be furloughed in five months," he said.

Kaneshiro's criticism centers on the recommendation for Thang Nguyen, who was sentenced in January on six counts of theft, money laundering and racketeering.

"It is appalling that the corrections system is not holding criminals accountable for their crimes," Kaneshiro said.

But Department of Public Safety Director Ted Sakai said the recommendation follows standard operating procedure. He said Nguyen could only be furloughed after being transferred to the Waiawa Correctional Facility.

"He will continue to be observed within a prison. And he will be given the opportunity to participate in programming," Sakai said.

Nguyen led a motorcycle theft ring out of a chop shop in Waipahu. Court records show 63 victims incurred over $500,000 in losses.

Cops busted the gang in January 2009. Nguyen's twin brother and another defendant were sentenced to eighteen months.

Deputy prosecutor Christopher Van Marter worries that if he's furloughed, Nguyen could be out before they are.

"He was the leader. He was the person who received the most profits. That's why the court sentenced him to prison, whereas the other defendants got far more lenient sentences," Van Marter said.

Last month, the Hawaii Paroling Authority set Nguyen's minimum sentence at two years. He can be considered for parole in January 2014.

"Part of what we need to do to protect public safety is make sure that if he goes on parole he's going to be ready for that. That's why we move him through the process," Sakai said.

Kaneshiro wants public safety to reconsider its recommendation.

"How can we let these defendants, more so Mr. Nguyen, walk?" he said.

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