GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Former Unity House President Anthony Rutledge, center, and his son Aaron Rutledge appeared at federal court yesterday.
Rutledges broach a new plea deal
Unity House's former president and his son face sentencing today
Former Unity House President Anthony Rutledge Jr. will "permanently disassociate" himself from the nonprofit organization his late father established, according to the terms of a new plea agreement.
U.S. District Judge David Ezra rejected a previous plea agreement in November because it would have allowed Rutledge, 59, and his son Aaron, 35, to return to Unity House as consultants at the end of their probation terms.
Rutledge and his son were to be sentenced for two separate felony and misdemeanor charges before Ezra today.
Under the new agreement, Rutledge would retire from Unity House, immediately leave any position he holds with Unity House and permanently disassociate himself from the nonprofit organization and its assets, according to a court document.
Rutledge pleaded guilty in August to a single felony charge for filing a false 1997 tax return for Star-Beachboys Inc., a family-owned Waikiki concession stand. As part of the new plea agreement, he pleaded guilty to the same charge before U.S. Magistrate Leslie Kobayashi yesterday.
If the plea agreement is accepted by Ezra, Rutledge will be placed on three years' probation for the felony charge, which stemmed from $350,000 in earnings he allegedly skimmed from Star-Beachboys and used as a slush fund.
Rutledge was the director and sole stockholder of the concession stand, according to a court document. His son ran the stand's daily operations, renting surfboards, boogie boards and other equipment to beachgoers. Rutledge faced three years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the felony charge.
In the initial plea agreement, Ezra had said that the "court cannot countenance (the defendants) pleading guilty to charges and step back into a fiduciary organization such as Unity House."
Attorney William McCorriston, who is representing Rutledge, said he still can be a beneficiary of Unity House and attend social events. Under the new plea agreement, Rutledge can also receive severance pay and pension and health benefits.
Unity House was founded by Rutledge's late father, Arthur, in 1951. Arthur Rutledge died in September 1997. The nonprofit organization serves members and retirees of the Teamsters Union and Local 5 Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees union.
Under the new plea agreement, Aaron Rutledge can return to Unity House after his probation ends. "He doesn't return to a position at the end of the year. It's left open for his ability to return. It's up to the board and membership to decide," said his attorney, Brian De Lima.
Rutledge's son had pleaded guilty in August to a misdemeanor charge for harassing an individual to prevent her from talking to law enforce- ment officials. While his late grandfather's home was being raided in 1997, Aaron Rutledge said in court yesterday, he called his father's secretary and told her not to say anything to law enforcement officials.
If the plea agreement is accepted, Aaron Rutledge will be placed on probation for a year. He faced a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
Attorneys Edmund Power and John Cox of the U.S. Department of Justice would not comment. Anthony Pounders, court-appointed receiver for Unity House, also declined to comment.
Tuesday, February 7, 2006
» Former Unity House President Anthony Rutledge Sr. was incorrectly identified as Anthony Rutledge Jr. in a Page A1 article Friday.