Wednesday, April 25, 2001

Ige gets 1-year
probation for his
campaign fund

The former legislator will
spend 400 hours in
community service

By Debra Barayuga

FORMER STATE SEN. Marshall Ige will spend no jail time for a failing to report an $18,000 campaign deficit and for reporting that $22,500 were loans from 14 relatives when in fact they weren't.

Saying the offense was a "serious" one, District Judge Tenney Tongg yesterday sentenced Ige to a year's probation and 400 hours of community service.

Tongg also denied Ige's motion to defer his no contest plea, which would have allowed him to expunge his conviction after he complies with the court's conditions.

Although Ige continues to maintain his innocence, "I sense you have been less than forthright and truthful in your explanation of matters," Tongg said.

He also noted that Ige continues to trivialize the seriousness of the offense.

Ige had faced a maximum one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

The state had recommended a combination of jail, community service and probation, as the court deemed appropriate.

Michael McCarthy, Ige's attorney, had characterized the charges as "technical" campaign spending violations. He described Ige as being "inaccurate and a little reckless" when he filed the report, but said he didn't deserve jail.

Ige has served the community for 20 years in the state House and Senate and has had his family's name dragged through the mud. "This has gone far enough," McCarthy said.

But Deputy Attorney General Kurt Spohn disputed the defense's previous characterization of the charges as "piddly" and the equivalent of a parking ticket. "This is no parking ticket."

Spohn said Ige's attempt to trivialize the charges showed "arrogant defiance" of campaign spending laws. "It's no trivial matter when public officials fail to disclose financial information in reports mandated by law."

The laws require that candidates for elective office have to file a supplemental report every six months if they have a campaign deficit or surplus. They continue to be a candidate, even if they lose the race, until they zero out their accounts.

Ige was initially charged in July 1999 with seven misdemeanor charges including failing to report campaign expenditures, failing to disclose a campaign deficit and accepting an improper campaign loan.

Ige pleaded no contest in March to two charges that were consolidated into a single count of certification of inaccurate campaign spending reports.

The charge encompasses two acts: failing to report a $18,262 contribution from local architecture firm Kajioka Okada Yamachi Architects Inc. to cover a large printing bill he owed to Ryan's Graphics Corp. during his failed 1994 Senate bid, and failing to report the accurate source of $22,500 that Ige said were loans from 14 relatives.

Family members said they couldn't recall making the loans.

Ige yesterday apologized to the Kaneohe community which he served for sticking by him.

He said he feels tremendous bitterness and anger over what he has gone through since the state brought "technical campaign violations" against him.

"For two years, the state put everything I've done ... all the lives I've touched, and thrown them away.

"I've got nothing to look forward to, nothing but regret."

He now shuns social activities. All he does now is stay in his room at home or in the yard with his dogs.

"The feeling of hopelessness, the feeling of worthlessness, is incredible," he told the court.

Ige said he's thought about moving away and tells his two college-aged children that there's no future here. But each time he goes away for a while, he realizes public service is all he knows. "I'm a country boy from Kaneohe. All I know is taking care of people. I never say no to anyone."

He is thankful he still has his health and his family. Although it will be a difficult climb, he assured the court, "You'll see me back in the public eye."

Spohn said while he can understand Ige's concern for his future, "the only one who has contributed to that is himself."

Watada said the commission offered to bring the matter before the Campaign Spending Commission for an administrative hearing, but Ige turned down the offer. "He said he would go along with the criminal charges and beat that. Obviously, he didn't."

Watada said it was "unfortunate" that a lawmaker would trivialize a law that he was responsible for ensuring by saying it was just a "technical violation."

"It was a very clear violation of the law."

Ige's conviction prohibits him from seeking state elected office for the next four years. His conviction also cannot be expunged.

As he left the courtroom, Ige said he was relieved the matter was finally over. McCarthy said Ige looks forward to performing the 400 hours of community service.

Ige's legal woes continue in September when he goes to trial on felony charges that he took $30,000 from a Beverly Hills couple and laundered the money through a third party. He is also accused of taking $7,000 from a Windward Oahu farmer after threatening to evict him.

Ige has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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