Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Lingle’s pick has
criminal record

State Rep. Bev Harbin was found
guilty of passing bad checks

Appointed state Rep. Bev Harbin, already under criticism for not disclosing she owes the state $123,000 in back taxes, also didn't tell Gov. Linda Lingle that she has a criminal record.

In 1987, Harbin -- appointed this month by Lingle to represent the Kakaako-Downtown district -- was arrested and found guilty of three cases of passing bad checks, the Star-Bulletin has found. The information is based on criminal history records maintained by the state. She was given a six-month suspended sentence, according to those records.

State of Hawaii Harbin, who at the time was married to Ronald Joseph Endrizal, was convicted under her former name: Beverly A. Endrizal.

Lingle appointed Harbin on Sept. 16 to fill the position held by Rep. Ken Hiraki, a Democrat who resigned to become a lobbyist for Hawaiian Telcom.

Bob Awana, Lingle's chief of staff, said he did not know about Harbin's criminal record.

Harbin is already under pressure to resign for not telling Lingle about the owed taxes. Her former auto repair company, Hon/Hawaii Service and Repair, was slapped with two state tax liens totaling $123,000, and several lawsuits demanding payment for money owed and back rent in the mid 1990s.

After the tax liens were reported, Lingle said last week that she would not have named Harbin to the legislature if she had known about her financial troubles.

Lingle said she was "surprised and disappointed" that Harbin had not disclosed the tax debt.

But Lingle said a criminal background check had been done on Harbin.

The governor and family members were on a trip to the mainland yesterday and she was not unavailable for comment.

But her chief of staff last night said the state's Department of Public Safety had been asked to do a criminal background check on the candidates Lingle was considering appointing to the vacant house seat.

"As we said before, had we known this, the governor would not have appointed her," Awana said.

Awana said he asks all appointees if they have anything embarrassing in their background. During Harbin's interview, Awana said, "I asked no less than four times. It was never disclosed to me. I am very disappointed to know this."

Harbin has also been criticized for joining the Democratic Party shortly after Hiraki resigned from office. Last night, Brickwood Galuteria, state Democratic Party chairman, said Harbin should consider resigning.

"I never thought she should be there in the first place. It might be time that she consider something like that," Galuteria said.

The record of Harbin's conviction was found by searching the public file of the Criminal Justice Data Center, which is administered by the attorney general.

According to the data center record, Harbin was found guilty of three counts of "negotiating a worthless instrument." On Oct. 5, 1987, Harbin was given a suspended six-month sentence, but could have faced up to a year in jail. The three counts were considered misdemeanors, which would not prevent her from serving in the Legislature. A person with a felony conviction is not allowed to serve, according to state law.

When first asked about the criminal record, Harbin said she didn't recall the incident, but later sent a formal statement.

"The media circus that began with my appointment to the vacant seat in the 28th Representative District seems to be sustaining its momentum," she wrote. "My inclination is to ignore it and address the issues that face the district."

"However, the calls I continue to receive from investigative reporters have me spending valuable time responding to questions that relate to my personal history," Harbin wrote. "Questions of the personal history nature will be referred to appropriate legal counsel, whom inquisitors are welcome to contact."

Harbin referred calls to Peter Donahoe, who she said was her attorney in 1987. Donahoe has retired and moved out of state and was not available for comment last night.

Awana declined to say if he or the governor thought Harbin should step down, but he did say the news of Harbin's criminal records means "we are going to revamp the level of our research."

State of Hawaii

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