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Wednesday, June 21, 2000

Lawyer who killed
man in DUI wreck doesn’t
get early parole

By Debra Barayuga


Former Honolulu attorney Thomas Foley, serving a four-year minimum prison term for killing a man and seriously injuring the man's wife in a car crash in 1995, will not be released early.

The Hawaii Paroling Authority held an early parole hearing yesterday for Foley but decided it was "prematurely set" and continued it to February 2001 -- when Foley's minimum term is expected to expire.

The parole board in February 1999 reduced his minimum term to four years from six years over the state's objections.

The state objected to early parole again yesterday saying it would minimize the seriousness of the crime, which resulted in the death of Ho Pin Tsai and serious injury to his wife, Thianh Luu, said Deputy Prosecutor Chris Van Marter.

Foley had a blood-alcohol level of three times the then-legal limit and was going about 70 mph when he crashed his car into the couple's car. He pleaded no contest to first-degree negligent homicide and first-degree negligent injury in the January 1995 crash.

Van Marter also noted there are two other inmates who were convicted in 1996 of identical crimes and had no prior history of driving while drunk, but were given identical minimum terms as Foley.

"It would be unfair to release Foley when his record is worse than other inmates convicted of identical crimes," he said.

Foley's attorney, Dan Foley, objected to the state's view that it has to send a message by keeping his client behind bars until his term expires. "Mr. Foley was a very high-profile, successful attorney when this happened, he lost his license (to practice law) and spent three years in prison -- I think that sends a message," he said.

Foley is doing research and writing for a law firm on a work furlough since he was barred from practicing law after his no contest plea. He also worked in the Legislature. He will be able to resume practicing law when he is paroled.

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