Isle parole member
arraigned on abuse

Lani Rae Garcia pleads not guilty
to the misdemeanor charges

By Rod Antone

One of the two remaining members of the Hawaii Paroling Authority was arraigned this week on misdemeanor abuse charges.

Lani Rae Garcia, 52, pleaded not guilty to the charges before Family Court Judge Darryl Choy on Thursday.

According to police, Garcia was arrested at 10:30 p.m. March 19 at a Kalama Valley residence on two counts of abuse of a family member.

Tommy Johnson, Paroling Authority administrator, said he had only heard the news by way of reporters and could not confirm Garcia's arrest or whether it could affect her standing as a board member.

"I spoke to the Governor's Office, and this is the only thing I can say at this point relating to Mrs. Garcia," said Johnson.

"I'm trying to verify all the information I got from the inquires ... and when I do ... I'm going to forward it to the Governor's Office and let her take a look at it and make a determination on how the Governor's Office wants to proceed."

A spokesman for Gov. Linda Lingle said as of yesterday evening, the administration still did not have enough information about the case to release a statement.

"We're gathering all the information from the parties involved to present to the governor and lieutenant governor so they can evaluate the situation," said spokesman Russell Pang.

Garcia, a former assistant federal public defender, is known for giving stern lectures to convicted criminals during their parole hearings.

She and acting Chairwoman Mary Tiwanak are all that remain of the board because former Chairman Alfred Beaver resigned earlier this month after an investigation into whether he misused his post.

Beaver's attorney said he made some poor decisions and was misled by a parole officer into altering parole and sentencing for several parolees. Beaver had been placed on paid administrative leave since Nov. 22 while the investigation was conducted.

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