HONOLULU (KHNL) – Tears, victim testimony, and other drama. All for the sentencing of a mango thief.
Honolulu prosecutors say the man should be sent to prison for trying to sell stolen fruit in Chinatown.
Neal Bashford sits in court, sick and tired of being victimized. The owner of Mokuleia Farms on Oahu’s North Shore says he’s losing the battle against crop thieves.
“Not only the financial loss of the fruit, which can be devastating to my farm,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s in excess of $12,000 to $20,000 a year.”
So he wants the judge to drop the hammer on a mango thief. Sinfroso Villegas stole 300 pounds of mangos from Mokuleia Farms last August.
“At some point, we have to put our foot down,” Bashford said. “Stop this. It’s been going on for a long time.”
For the first time, Honolulu prosecutors apply a new law that makes agricultural theft a felony. Bashford says the damage to his company goes beyond the loss of some fruit.
“They damage the trees. They break gates. They tear fences down,” he said. “The damage to the trees is permanent. So I get no fruit production from that part of the tree forever.”
Villegas breaks down in tears, as he asks the judge for leniency.
Somebody please explain to me what I’m missing here. The State of Hawaii is telling the owners of the Haleiwa Farmers Market that they will have to move because they’re violating a state zoning law that prohibits vending from highways.
Have you ever visited this farmers’ market? I have, a number of times. I recall coming upon it about three years ago when it was in its infancy — a few vendors and a smattering of customers. We were back about a month ago, telling our out-of-state visitors it was something they should not miss on their tour of Oahu’s North Shore. They agreed, after spending about an hour chatting with some of the several dozen farmers and buying products to take back to Virginia.
I was delighted to see how the market had grown and how many people — an estimated 2,500 — visit it each Sunday. I explained that farmers’ markets were becoming wildly popular in Hawaii and that they were one thing that nobody could possibly find fault with.
I was wrong. I had underestimated our government’s ability to find wrong solutions to problems that do not exist.
To find the Haleiwa Farmers’ Market, drive through downtown Haleiwa on a Sunday morning to the north edge of town. Instead of rounding the curve to get back on the Joseph P. Leong Bypass, proceed straight ahead to a small piece of asphalt that used to be a highway. You not only have arrived at the farmers’ market, you have found the issue that has upset state officials.
The stretch where the asphalt still sits and the farmers’ market holds court on Sundays used to be a road. It stopped being a road when the bypass opened.
That was in 1993.