State Judiciary worker
fined in theft of books

The Campbell High basketball
coach also gets probation

A judge sentenced a state Judiciary employee, who is also a high school basketball coach, to five years probation for stealing state property.

Circuit Judge Michael Town also denied Solomon Batoon's request to defer his no-contest plea. That would have given him the chance to wipe the conviction from his record.

Batoon, 56, a driver's education officer for the Judiciary's Driver's Education Division and at one time its administrator, entered no-contest pleas in July to two counts of second-degree theft that occurred in 1998. He was accused of stealing $350 worth of state driver's education workbooks, selling them to a private driver's license instructor and pocketing the money.

Batoon, who runs his own driver's education business, also ordered state workbooks to conduct classes for Amfac employees on Kauai and kept the money, prosecutors said.

Town said that Batoon's conduct was out of character and that he appeared remorseful. But, the judge added, "You didn't take responsibility up front ... you had a position of trust in an organization that expects us to act in an exemplary way."

Town also ordered Batoon to pay a $3,500 fine as punishment "because you did it for gain," perform 200 hours of community service and make restitution totaling $1,946. Batoon must also write a letter of apology to the administrative director of the courts, Rick Keller.

Batoon's attorney, Michael Green, had argued for a deferral, citing letters of support from people, including Lt. Gov. James Aiona, who knows Batoon as a basketball coach and community leader.

Batoon had pleaded no contest in July because an admission of guilt would have cost him his coaching position at Campbell High School, where he was recently hired.

Colleen Chun, deputy attorney general, had asked the court to sentence Batoon to 30 days in jail as well as probation.

Batoon is still working for the state as a driver's education officer in the District Court's driver's education division, where he has worked for the past 10 years.

Marsha Kitagawa, Judiciary spokeswoman, said court officials are "very concerned" about Batoon's continued employment with the Judiciary and are examining different options.


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