POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, May 26, 2011
A former Honolulu man who thought he had diplomatic immunity from arrest and prosecution could spend up to nine more years behind bars before being deported for stealing nearly $300,000 from a local law firm that hired him as its office manager.
A state judge sentenced Nigel Salmingo, 31, to 10 years in prison Wednesday for theft, money laundering and forgery. The Hawaii Paroling Authority will decide how much of that sentence Salmingo must serve before he is eligible for parole. He has been in custody since his arrest in New York last May.
Salmingo's father, Walter, was consul at the Philippine Consulate General in Hawaii in the 1990s.
Because Salmingo is not a U.S. citizen, he faces deportation as soon as he gets out of prison.
Salmingo asked Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario for a second chance. He said the time he has been in custody has been the hardest year of his life.
"If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn't have done what I have done," Salmingo said.
When the judge asked Salmingo if he wanted to explain further, Salmingo said he was around people who had more means than him and he just wanted to fit in.
"Greed just got the best of me," he said.
Salmingo pleaded guilty in December to stealing $297,438 from Winer Meheula & Devens between July 2007 and March 2009.
Prosecutor Chris Van Marter said Salmingo was able to conceal his actions for so long because he made false entries in the company's books and had the law firm's bank and credit card statements sent to his Punahou Street home.
Vladimir Devens, a title partner in the law firm, said the theft devastated the company. He called Salmingo a cold, calculating criminal with no conscience whatsoever. "I myself was fooled by the baby-face looks, the innocent-looking features of this man," Devens said.
Van Marter said Salmingo spent much of the money he stole at bars, clubs, restaurants and social events.
The prosecutor said Salmingo forged company checks to buy a car and pay off his personal credit card bills, opened new credit card accounts for himself in the company's name, made unauthorized charges and took $140,000 in cash advances from the law partners' company credit cards.