A woman who pleaded guilty to stealing thousands of dollars in monthly parking fees when she was a manager for the vendors of two downtown city parking garages will not go to prison.
But she will not avoid conviction.
A state judge sentenced Gale Bracey, 39, to five years’ probation yesterday and ordered her to repay the city and the two vendors $419,238. Her lawyer is disputing the amount of restitution owed.
Bracey apologized for what she did and asked the judge for a chance to pay back the money she stole.
Her lawyer, Myles Breiner, said Bracey cannot work to repay the money with a conviction. He also said Bracey cooperated in her own prosecution.
"She’s saved everyone a great deal of time and expense," Breiner said.
Bracey asked the judge to defer her guilty pleas, giving her the opportunity to eventually have the charges dropped if she stays out of trouble.
But Circuit Judge Randal Lee told Bracey were it not for the provisions of her plea deal, which specifies no prison term, she likely would have gotten some amount of jail time because of the amount of money she stole.
"You got the benefit of a pretty good deal. Don’t blow it," Lee said.
Bracey pleaded guilty to four counts of theft of more than $20,000 and two counts of money laundering.
She worked for Republic Parking Northwest from July 2004 to February 2006 when she was fired amid theft allegations.
The state says three months later a midlevel official of the city Department of Facility Maintenance told the president of Standard Parking Corp. his company would have a better chance of winning the new contract for the Hale Pauahi and Kukui Plaza parking garages if he hired Bracey and put her in charge of the parking operation.
Standard did hire Bracey. And with the help of a second midlevel official of the facility maintenance department, the state says Standard won the new contract even though it was by far the highest bidder.
Standard fired Bracey in April 2007 after an investigation revealed parking revenues for Hale Pauahi were about $15,000 per month less whenever Bracey was the manager.
Neither of the two city officials have been charged with any crimes. However, one of the officials no longer works for the city. And the executive director of the city Ethics Commission said he attended yesterday’s sentencing to observe the proceeding.
Bracey and her former husband filed for personal bankruptcy in December 2007. Their filing indicated they owed primarily consumer debt.
She has since remarried and is living in Japan with her new husband.