Lying about income gets con artist sent to jail
A Honolulu businessman who was sentenced to probation for stealing nearly $200,000 from two Japanese clients is in prison because he lied about his income and ability to pay back the money.
When a state circuit judge sentenced him to probation three years ago, Shinichi Murayama, 38, promised to pay back the money he stole. One of his victims told the judge he didn't want Murayama to go to prison if he paid back the money. His other victim had already died.
Murayama was supposed to pay $2,000 per month to satisfy his $191,883 restitution requirement. But last May, Judge Richard Pollack reduced the monthly payments to $445 because Murayama told his probation officer and the court that he couldn't pay $2,000 per month.
"He hid his earnings and the nature of his expenses to create an image that he was destitute," said Paul Mow, deputy prosecutor.
Mow said Murayama also told the court his financial difficulties forced him to move in with his mother.
But during the past two years, Mow said he has been receiving tips that Murayama wasn't being truthful. He said the tips eventually led to the discovery that Murayama was renting a luxury condominium in Kakaako for $4,000 per month.
His landlord sued Murayama for failing to pay his rent for a month. That's when Mow discovered Murayama had been renting the condominium for a year.
When Pollack reduced Murayama's monthly restitution payments, Mow said Murayama had received a $7,000 check for consulting fees in a real estate transaction that he did not report to the court.
Mow said he also discovered that against court orders, Murayama had obtained a new passport during his probation and left the country twice.
Pollack re-sentenced Murayama last week to 10 years in prison for three counts of first-degree theft and five years for one count of second-degree theft.
"In our opinion, he's a total con artist. I'm just glad he's paying the price for what he did," Mow said.
And Mow said he believes that if Pollack hadn't sent Murayama straight to prison, there would be more victims.