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Former Hilo teacher gets 10-year meth sentence

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 08:47 a.m. HST, Jun 28, 2013

HILO » A former Big Island special education teacher already serving a five-year federal prison term for a meth conviction will still have to serve an additional 10 years on a state drug charge, despite an appeals court ruling that overturned the consecutive portion of her sentence.

Former Keaukaha Elementary School teacher Lynn Marie Dionise, 56, was re-sentenced this week in state court for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.

A state appeals court had overturned the consecutive portion of her sentence and ordered a new sentencing before a different judge. The first judge had failed to state on the record the reasons for imposing the consecutive sentence, the state Intermediate Court of Appeals ruled in October.

But a different judge again imposed a consecutive sentence, despite her claims that she's changed during her time in a federal California prison. She said she's taken classes, participated in programs and has been "discipline-free" while incarcerated.

"But my biggest change, your honor, is my internal change," she said. "I'm not the same person. I was a drug addict. I'm not that person anymore."

Dionise was arrested in 2008 after police found 6.8 grams of crystal meth, marijuana and more than $13,000 in cash at her condominium.

"It may be true that in many respects you may have lived a pro-social lifestyle prior to these events of criminal conduct," Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura said. "You were an educator and worked as a special education teacher. On the other hand, at the time of sentencing, back then and now, you were already convicted in federal court for the offense of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine."

He said she should tell the Hawaii Paroling Authority about the changes she's undergone. "My sentence is not based on what you have achieved in the federal system," he said, "but based on what I saw in the pre-sentence report and the statement of facts that were existing at that time."

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bumbye wrote:
If it's a teacher, why is is almost always a Special Education teacher? I think I there was only one non-SE teacher and she was the one from Kailua, kindergarten I think.
on June 28,2013 | 09:41AM
allie wrote:
Lingle's effort to get teachers to accept random drug tests went nowhere.
on June 28,2013 | 09:55AM
peanutgallery wrote:
Just another example of why we need to drug test all teachers. They defrauded the public. After agreeing to random drug testing to get a raise, they brought in the ACLU to argue that it wasn't right that they were told to p in a cup. How absurd. We trust our keiki with these people. They should be drug tested on a regular basis.
on June 28,2013 | 01:18PM
bumbye wrote:
Come to think of it, we should drug test all parents. Keiki are in the care of their parents more than teachers.
on June 29,2013 | 03:27AM
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