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Rodrigues loses conviction appeal following release from prison

By Ken Kobayashi

LAST UPDATED: 2:37 p.m. HST, Mar 27, 2012

A federal appeals court has rejected another challenge by former union leader Gary Rodrigues, who was recently released from prison after serving more than four years for conspiracy and embezzlement.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled today that an omission in the instructions to the jury that found him guilty was "harmless" and did not influence the panel in reaching its verdict.

Rodrigues, former state director of the United Public Workers union, was released from prison earlier this month, said Eric Seitz, his lawyer.

Seitz said Rodrigues is in Honolulu, settling in and looking for a job.

Seitz said they probably will continue pressing their challenge either by asking for a larger 9th Circuit panel to review today's ruling or by seeking an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.

Rodrigues was convicted of conspiracy, embezzling union money, money laundering and health care fraud in 2002. 

He was sentenced to five years and four months in prison, but was allowed to remain free pending an earlier appeal that was also turned down by the appeals court. He began serving his term in early 2008 and was released after serving just over four year. Seitz said Rodrigues received credit for good behavior.

Rodrigues also paid $378,000 in restitution to the UPW.

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