Wednesday, January 9, 2002

Former senator pleads
guilty to 5 counts

2 other counts against Marshall
Ige were dropped in a deal

By Richard Borreca

Former state Sen. Marshall Ige said he hopes to rebuild his life after pleading guilty to five criminal counts yesterday.

Ige pleaded guilty to two felonies -- second-degree theft and attempting to evade taxes -- and three misdemeanor counts of failure to file tax returns.

Former state Sen. Marshall Ige at his District Court arraignment last year.

Ige may get up to five years in jail and $10,000 in fines for each of the felonies and one year imprisonment and $2,500 in fines for each of the three misdemeanor tax violation charges. But state Deputy Attorney General Kurt Spohn said the state will ask that Ige serve one year in prison, make restitution for the money he stole and be put on probation.

State Judge Sandra Simms set a May 28 sentencing date for Ige.

Two other felony counts, first-degree theft and money laundering, were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

The second-degree theft charge stems from a case in which Ige improperly took $7,000 from Windward Oahu farmer Hahn Lam in June 1999 after threatening to evict him from leased land.

The state also alleged that Ige improperly took $30,000 from an elderly Beverly Hills couple, Morris and Rita Wolfred, and laundered the proceeds through a businessman.

Although the first-degree theft charge in the Wolfred case was dismissed with the couple's consent, Ige will be required to repay the $30,000, according to the Attorney General's Office.

The Wolfreds said Ige promised to expunge a Hawaii criminal conviction against their daughter, Joan Wolfred, for $30,000. But Ige, who met the Wolfreds through his aunt, was unable to expunge her criminal record and did not return the money to the couple voluntarily. After repeatedly asking for a refund, the Wolfreds sued Ige, and a California judge ruled in favor of the couple.

The state said Ige also hid the money from the state tax collector by giving it to a businessman who parceled it back to him in small amounts.

Ige, 48, a Democrat from Windward Oahu, served in the Legislature from 1982 to 2000, is a former state Democratic Party vice president and former chairman of the Senate Human Services committee. He was vice president of the state House from 1985 to 1986.

He is currently unemployed but told reporters yesterday that he hopes to repay his public defender, Richard Sing, who handled the plea agreement.

After a court appearance yesterday, Ige said he has repaid the Wolfreds and will repay Lam. He said he would try to rebuild his life.

Nearly one year ago, Ige was found guilty of misdemeanor campaign spending violations brought by the Campaign Spending Commission and given probation and 200 hours of community service. In that case Ige failed to report $22,500 in campaign contributions.

The conviction means he cannot hold office for four years, according to Bob Watada, the commission's executive director.

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