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Wednesday, April 23, 2014         

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Plea deal keeps woman from jail

A former secretary admitted she stole thousands from a school's account

By Nelson Daranciang

POSTED:

Craig T. Kojima / ckojima@staradvertiser.comDenise Hayashi pleaded guilty Monday to theft and multiple forgery charges.

Denise Hayashi started with checks of a hundred to a few hundred dollars.

Hayashi, 41, pleaded guilty Monday to one count of first-degree theft and 98 counts of second-degree forgery.

"She was anxious to take responsibility and she stepped up and took responsibility," said Donald Wilkerson, Hayashi's lawyer.

Hayashi did not comment after entering her pleas.

How Hayashi spent the $68,870 she stole from June 2008 to June 2010 will be addressed at her sentencing, Wilkerson said.

Under the terms of her plea deal with the state, Hayashi will be able to avoid time behind bars as long as she keeps up with a schedule to perform community service and pay off a $10,000 fine and $10,695 in court costs and fees.

Hayashi agreed to accept five years of probation, 1,500 hours of community service, the fine, court costs and fees and will write a letter of apology that will be posted at the school when a state judge sentences her in August. She must perform at least 25 hours of community service and pay at least $450 per month or face spending a year in jail.

Young said Hayashi has already paid back money she stole.

The state Department of Education said it fired Hayashi in September.

Hayashi stole money from Pearl Ridge's local school account — money parents raised for extracurricular activities — by forging the principal's signature, Young said. She was caught after she nearly drained the account and the school bounced a check when she was not working.

"So, if she hadn't overdrawn the (account), she probably could have kept this scheme going for a long time," Young said.

Hayashi is the second special administrative services assistant at a public school on Oahu to plead guilty to stealing from the local school account.

Janel Echiberi pleaded guilty last October to stealing more than $13,000 from Lehua Elementary in Pearl City. However, unlike Hayashi, Echiberi has the opportunity to clear her criminal record of the theft and forgery charges because a state judge granted her a five-year deferral of her guilty pleas.

Young said because the local school account is not money the Legislature appropriates, there are fewer checks and balances. He said thefts will continue if the state does not impose stricter oversight.






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