WAILUKU » Free agent linebacker Kaluka Maiava has pleaded no contest to assault charges for a brawl at a Maui bar that happened in 2013, days after he signed with the Oakland Raiders.
Maiava turned himself in Monday afternoon to the Maui Community Correctional Center to begin serving a 15-day jail term, the Maui News reported.
A judge denied his request to reduce the jail time but gave him the chance to keep the conviction off his record if he successfully completes a year of probation. "Under the circumstances I see in this case, the 15 days in jail was warranted," Wailuku District Judge Kelsey Kawano said.
Maiava’s attorney, Ben Lowenthal, argued that a conviction would hurt his football career. Maiava was released from the Raiders last year after a hamstring injury. The Baldwin High School graduate played for the University of Southern California before being drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL draft.
"This conviction will have an adverse effect on his ability to join another team and continue playing professionally — despite being in good condition and healthy to play," Lowenthal said. "A conviction should not be the final factor that leads to an early end to a professional football career."
Lowenthal argued that half a month in jail would set Maiava back for training and conditioning, jeopardizing his chances of joining a new team in the spring.
Prosecutors say Maiava and his brother approached two men at a bar and punched them repeatedly. Police said the Maiava brothers fled from the bar.
Deputy Prosecutor Ryan Teshima said a jail sentence isn’t meant to be convenient. "The reasons given by the defendant are purely self-serving," he said.
Maiava shouldn’t receive preferential treatment "because he is an NFL player, makes a lot of money, has a lot of friends," Teshima said.