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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, January 10, 2010

Kauai mom with 3 kids, 66 arrests gets decade in prison

By Paul Curtis
The Garden Island

LIHU‘E, Kauai — Ashlee Pasion Rita, 27, convicted felon and mother of three, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for numerous drug and property crimes Wednesday.

Prosecuting Attorney Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho told 5th Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe a lengthy prison term was necessary as Rita has an extensive criminal history, including 66 prior arrests and 23 convictions, nine of them felonies, according to a county press release.

Iseri-Carvalho said Rita, also known as Ashlee Pasion, had previously received varied sentences including fines, community service and numerous sentences of prison time, ranging from three days to six months, for prior convictions.

In one case, she was convicted of seven felony counts of forgery, a felony count of theft, and one felony count of burglary.

She was facing 100 years in prison and, despite these serious charges, was sentenced to only 74 days in jail in addition to probation, the release states.

On probation, she failed numerous drug tests and got kicked out of four different drug-treatment programs, Iseri-Carvalho said in the release.

In the most current case, in April 2009, Kaua‘i Police Department officers executed a search warrant on the residence Rita shared with her boyfriend.

Rita’s three children, ages 2, 4 and 7, were in the residence at the time the warrant was executed. Rita exited the residence holding her toddler with a glass pipe containing crystal methamphetamine (ice) sticking out of the front waistband of Rita’s clothing.

She admitted that she had smoked ice earlier that morning, according to the county press release.

More ice was found in a container in the living room, under the couch. Even more “horrific,” according to Iseri-Carvalho in the press release, was the recovery of a loaded .22-caliber handgun found between the cushions of the living-room couch.

Both the gun and the drugs were easily accessible to anyone in the residence, including the children, said Iseri-Carvalho in the release.

Watanabe issued the sentence after saying Rita is a danger to society and herself.

“Ms. Pasion (Rita) needed to be held accountable for her actions,” Iseri-Carvalho said after the sentencing.

“Every form of rehabilitation was offered, and she continued to jeopardize the safety of herself, her children and the community by her use of drugs. The only option left for this defendant was long-term incarceration,” said Iseri-Carvalho.

Rita late last year pleaded guilty to third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, and had a charge of unlawful use of or possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia against her dropped, in one of the cases.

Wednesday she also faced re-sentencing for several 2005 cases involving charges of forgery, credit-card fraud, credit-card theft, burglary and driving without a license.

The drug-promotion charge is a Class C felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, with a mandatory minimum of 20 months in prison.

Watanabe asked Rita in court last year why she was pleading guilty. “I had the pipe on my waist,” Rita said.

In court in October, a pregnant Rita, who was being held at the Kaua‘i Community Correctional Center, wore a white T-shirt and green pants.

State Deputy Public Defender John Calma had requested Rita be sentenced as a first-time drug offender.