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18-month sentence for ex-hotel bellman's thefts

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WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) — A former bellman at a Maui resort has been sentenced to a 1 1/2 years in jail for stealing from guests' luggage and rooms.

John Bueno pleaded no contest to charges of stealing jewelry, electronics and other valuables from March 2012 to February 2013 while working at the Grand Wailea.

Bueno, 38, apologized at his sentencing Thursday. The judge also placed him on five years' probation and ordered him to pay nearly $73,000 in restitution, The Maui News reported (http://ow.ly/An1sl ).

Second Circuit Judge Peter Cahill read a letter from a woman whose jewelry, including her wedding ring, was stolen.

"It's something that will haunt me for many years to come, if not for the rest of my life," said the letter, which also said the woman's children feel fearful of traveling to Maui.

The thefts tainted the hotel's reputation, said Mike Palazzotto, director of security at the Grand Wailea.

"That he did this repeatedly indicates a certain amount of premeditation and planning on his part," said Deputy Prosecutor Emlyn Higa. "He just kept going back to that well over and over again to take something of substantial value from these guests."

Defense attorney Sonya Toma said Bueno was in the throes of a drug addiction and was stealing to support it.

"I don't think he was in his right mind at the time and didn't consider the victims in this case," she said, adding that Bueno was no longer using drugs.

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Information from: The Maui News, http://www.mauinews.com

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