Rutledge’s sentencing is delayed until Monday
Unity House’s former chief decries other actions by the judge as a "conspiracy"
After closed-door talks yesterday with defense attorneys and prosecutors over a new plea agreement, U.S. District Judge David Ezra postponed sentencing for former Unity House President Tony Rutledge until Monday, drawing ire from Rutledge outside the courtroom.
"He's got until Monday to decide" whether to accept the deal, Rutledge told reporters angrily, after leaving the federal courthouse yesterday afternoon. "If he doesn't, he doesn't get s--."
Rutledge said Ezra has asked that Unity House's court-appointed receiver be given as much as three or four more months under the plea agreement to close deals and wrap up loose ends before a new president is put in power. He called the move a "conspiracy," saying Ezra is friends with the receiver's attorney, Brook Hart.
Ezra did not address the court yesterday, and prosecutors declined comment. Hart acknowledged he has known Ezra for years, but said the judge is "even-handed" and "fair."
He also said it is important to make sure there is an "orderly transition from the receivership to the new management" as up to $17 million for proposed deals is at stake. "If the receiver is quickly knocked out of business, some of those negotiations will fail," Hart said.
Rutledge, 59, and his 35-year-old son, Aaron, were to be sentenced yesterday under a plea agreement that would have required Rutledge to "permanently disassociate" himself from Unity House. He still would be able to attend social events and remain a Unity House beneficiary, receiving health insurance and a pension, according to his attorneys.
The Rutledges' sentencing was originally set for 10:30 a.m. yesterday, then postponed to 2 p.m. and then to 3:30 p.m.
When defense attorneys and prosecutors gathered in the courtroom at 3:30 p.m., they were called into Ezra's chambers for a 15-minute talk, which ended in a third postponement.
In November, Ezra threw out a plea deal that would have allowed Rutledge to act as a consultant to Unity House at the end of his probation term. Rutledge pleaded guilty in August to a single felony charge of filing a false 1997 tax return for Star-Beachboys Inc., a family-owned Waikiki concession stand. His son pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge after he harassed a woman to prevent her from talking to law enforcement officials.
If Ezra accepts the new plea deal, 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. His son would be placed on a year-long probation and would be able to return to Unity House after his probationary term is finished.
Rutledge was director and sole stockholder of the Beachboys concession stand.
Unity House was founded by Rutledge's late father, Arthur, in 1951. The nonprofit organization serves members and retirees of the Teamsters Union and Local 5 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees union.