Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Ige gets 6 months
in prison for theft

The judge says the former state
senator didn't show remorse

By Rick Daysog

A state judge sentenced former state Sen. Marshall Ige to six months in prison today for second-degree theft.

Circuit Judge Sandra Simms also gave Ige five years probation. She said she was troubled by the case given that Ige apparently didn't show remorse.

"I'm not sure you're making a connection," Simms lectured Ige. "The disputed amounts are less of a concern than the wrongs itself."

The state had asked for a year in prison.

After the sentencing, Deputy Attorney General Kurt Spohn said, "I think its clear that the courts have recognized that we have an epidemic of public corruption. It's clear that a lawmaker who commits crimes can expect to see a jail sentence."

Ige asked for no jail time.

"I'm not trying to make excuses. I regret going down this path. I should have never done it," he said.

His attorney said Ige was in dire financial straits.

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.

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.His case arose from the attorney general's investigation into the former Bishop Estate trustees.

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

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

In the first-degree theft case, Ige was indicted for allegedly improperly taking $30,000 from an elderly Beverly Hills couple, Morris and Rita Wolfred, and for allegedly laundering the proceeds through a local businessman.

The first-degree charge in the Wolfreds' case was dismissed with the couple's consent. Ige has repaid the $30,000 to the couple but still owes $4,400 in restitution to Lam.

The Wolfreds said Ige promised to expunge a Hawaii criminal conviction against their daughter, Joan Wolfred, in exchange for the money. 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 their favor.

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.

In a separate case last year, 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.

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