Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Postal worker gets
3-plus years in mail theft

A former distribution clerk for the U.S. Postal Service and past president of the local postal workers union was sentenced to three years and nine months in federal prison for stealing and possessing stolen mail, including U.S. Treasury checks and credit cards.

Walter Hayashi, 47, of Moiliili, who worked for the Postal Service for 22 years, was facing a range of 36 to 46 months after pleading guilty last July with possessing 15 or more credit cards with credit limits totaling $80,000 and nine U.S. Treasury checks, each valued at more than $1,000.

He admitted he was severely addicted to crystal methamphetamine and had smoked it the day he was caught on camera in July 2002 trying to conceal a bunch of U.S. Treasury checks.

U.S. District Judge Susan Mollway ordered a prison term at the high end, saying she did not believe Hayashi truly understands the seriousness of his actions.

He lied on the stand yesterday, saying the July incident was the first time he had stolen U.S. mail, and then tried to retract it after being told it would have a serious impact on his sentence.

"I have a lot of difficulty accepting his statements at face value," Mollway said. "I think he has yet to accept responsibility in his heart."

She said Hayashi admitted he lied while under oath -- calling it a clear affront to the justice system -- even as he argued to her that he had turned to religion with the help of his pastor, wife and mother.

"You don't tell a lie and take it back with no consequence," Mollway said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Nakamura had asked for a sentence on the high end of the range, arguing that Hayashi "seriously violated" the trust people place in the postal system.

Nakamura played a videotape in court yesterday of Hayashi at work on July 17, 2002, the day he was arrested. The tape recorded him concealing U.S. Treasury checks he had removed from a box and placing them at the bottom of two mail utility carts.

Hayashi testified yesterday he had already stashed nine checks in his locker and was hiding the others in the utility carts as "backup" in case he did not steal an amount he felt was "sufficient."

He said did not open the checks, but had peered through the opening in the front to determine whether they exceeded "several thousand."


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