Mata pleads not guilty

A second Hilo man has been arrested and charged with a number of offenses related to burglaries in Hilo’s Waiakea Uka neighborhood.

Keoni Mata pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Hilo District Court to two counts of burglary, eight counts of theft, four counts of fraudulent use of a credit card, three counts of identity theft and two counts of forgery.

Mata’s court-appointed attorney, Ivan Van Leer, requested Judge Harry Freitas either free Mata on supervised release or a “drastic reduction” of his client’s $185,000 bail.

“Mr. Mata has been a lifelong resident of this island,” Van Leer said, calling the bail “excessively high … tantamount to no bail whatsoever.

“… Mr. Mata has a wife or significant other with whom he has children. He stays home to watch the kids while she works full time.”

He noted Mata’s significant other was in court.

Deputy prosecutor Patricia Loo objected to any reduction in Mata’s bail, describing him as “a person with a high level of risk for potentially returning to court.”

“I was informed that he had a five-year jail sentence and was just released last year,” she said. “He has a severe drug problem which appears to be starting all over again. He was just picked up on a $500 bench warrant on traffic matters.”

Freitas maintained Mata’s bail and ordered him to appear for a preliminary hearing 2 p.m. today.

According to court documents filed by police, Mata allegedly sold gold jewelry stolen in a burglary Dec. 10 on Uilani Place in Hilo to Hilo Surplus for $510. The jewelry was appraised at $1,242.

Mata was additionally arrested for burglary in connection with a Waiakea Uka break-in Dec. 5 and for theft in connection with a Waiakea Uka burglary Dec. 12.

Last week, 18-year-old Kyson Dameron of Hilo was also arrested and charged with crimes related to these three burglaries, including the use of a stolen credit card.

Dameron was charged Tuesday by felony information and non-felony complaint with 45 charges in connection with those break-ins. A bench warrant set his bail at $106,750 and he was ordered to have no contact with three complaining witnesses in the case.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.


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