Disgraced politician Rene Mansho dabs away tears as defense lawyer James Koshiba makes final arguments on her behalf during sentencing today at Circuit Court.

Mansho sentenced
to a year in jail

The ex-Councilwoman had faced
a maximum 10 years in prison
for misusing city money

By Debra Barayuga and Gordon Pang

Former city council woman Rene Mansho was sentenced today to one year in jail and five years probation for misusing campaign funds and having her Council staff do campaign work on city time.

Circuit Judge Dan Kochi also ordered Mansho, 52, a former school teacher and high school vice principal to pay restitution of $25,000, which is in addition to the $40,000 she already paid.

Mansho, who represented North Shore-Waipahu for 13 years until she resigned in April, tearfully apologized for her conduct to the court, her family, friends and constituents. She had been facing a maximum 10-year prison term and $35,000 in fines.

"It was my fault. I was wrong. I take full responsibility," Mansho said as she dabbed away tears.

"There must be accountability," Kochi said, as he handed down the jail term today.

In sentencing her to prison, he denied her request for a deferral of her guilty plea, which would have enabled her to wipe her record clean.

Mansho waived indictment and pleaded guilty last month to first- and second-degree theft, saying she was taking responsibility.

A State sheriff prepares to lead former Honolulu City Councilwoman Rene Mansho out of the courtroom after she was sentenced today in Circuit Court. Her lawyer, James Koshiba, made final arguments on her behalf. Mansho received a year in jail, five years probation and a $25,000 fine.

Deputy prosecutor Kevin Takata had argued that Mansho, with "full knowledge and approval" intentionally used campaign funds for personal use and used Council staff to do campaign work on city time over a 10-year period, beginning just months after she took office.

Mansho was a council member since October 1988.

The prosecution said she cost Honolulu taxpayers about $165,000 by misusing Council staff and had asked that she reimburse the city for the entire amount. The judge ordered her to pay $25,000 in addition to the $40,000 already reimbursed.

Prosecutors said Mansho used campaign money to pay for airline tickets and hotel accommodations, meals at restaurants, a high school reunion at the Turtle Bay Hilton and dues for her sorority.

She also used her Council staff to prepare flyers for fundraisers, solicit contributions to fundraisers and donations for prizes, or staff her campaign office in Mililani.

Prosecutors said the work she did ostensibly for the community was only to get re-elected.

Takata had argued that Mansho should be sentenced to the maximum 10-years imprisonment for first-degree and second-degree theft and ordered to make full restitution.

Mansho has insisted that all she wants is to do what she can for her constituents and her community.

Last year, the state Campaign Spending Commission fined Mansho $40,000 for misusing campaign funds. She also reimbursed the Council for $40,000 after the city Ethics Commission found she had misused Council staff.

She resigned her council seat, representing North Shore-Waipahu, on April 10 -- the day a Grand Jury was to meet to consider criminal charges against her. Her term was to expire in January.

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