Tuesday, November 24, 2015         

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Ex-teacher's longer prison term upheld

By Associated Press


HILO » A former Hawaii 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, the 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.

A different judge again imposed a consecutive sentence, despite Dio­nise's claims that she's changed during her time in federal prison in California. 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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