U.S. civilian faces Japanese judge on possession charge
April 16, 2008
NAHA, Okinawa — A 42-year-old U.S. civilian faces up to 18 months in a Japanese jail after pleading guilty Monday to inhaling speed.
Manuel Taitano, husband of a civilian Marine base employee, was arrested March 1 by Japanese narcotics officers following a drug raid at the Yomitan home of Satsuki Kawamura, the girlfriend of his friend and supplier, Yuichi Mekaru, 29.
Police said Taitano admitted to heating the stimulant phenylmethyl aminopropane and inhaling the vaporization in Kawamura’s home.
A urine sample later taken by police showed Taitano tested positive for the drug.
Mekaru was being investigated by police after neighbors complained of suspicious activity.
Police arrested Mekaru and 31- year-old Ryo Shinjo on drug charges. It is unknown if Kawamura was arrested.
A tearful Taitano asked Judge Hiroyuki Yoshii to be lenient on his sentence. Taitano, who lived on Kadena Air Base, has no previous criminal record on Okinawa.
“I’m not a bad person. Just give me a chance,” he said.
He apologized repeatedly for his actions and told Yoshii that depression over work problems led him to take drugs. Taitano, a self- employed building renovator, said he was also trying to get a consulting business with the Guam government off the ground.
Taitano was arrested during the U.S. military’s two-week “period of reflection,” which restricted all status of forces agreement personnel to the bases and their off- base homes.
Taitano’s wife, Janet, testified she was shocked to learn about her husband’s arrest and drug use. But she said she is committed to helping him get treatment.
Shinjo has been charged and is awaiting trial. Stars and Stripes was unable learn Monday whether Mekaru had been indicted.
Taitano is scheduled to be sentenced in Naha District Court on April 28.