She Had A Great Excuse!
WHATEVER HAPPEN TO COMMON SENSE
By: Vivian Ho, Chronicle Staff Writer
Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi pleaded no contest Friday to
stealing nearly $2,500 in clothing from the Neiman Marcus store on San
Francisco’s Union Square after a judge reduced the felony grand theft charge
against her to a misdemeanor.
Outside court, her attorney said Hayashi had been diagnosed
with a benign brain tumor before the shoplifting, and that the condition may
have influenced her behavior.
Hayashi, 45, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor grand theft.
She was sentenced to three years’ probation, ordered to pay $120 to a
restitution fund and $60 in court costs, and told to stay at least 50 feet away
from the Union Square store.
Security guards at Neiman Marcus detained the Castro Valley
Democrat on Oct. 25 after she allegedly walked out of the store with a white
blouse, black skirt and leather pants in a shopping bag without paying for
A spokesman for Hayashi had insisted she intended to pay for
the items, but was distracted in the store by cell phone calls and text
messages and forgot she was carrying them in the bag.
Hayashi was smiling when she walked into San Francisco
Superior Court on Friday wearing a green jacket, black pants and leopard-print
pumps, and carrying a black Chanel purse. She stood quietly during the brief
hearing, whispering at times to her attorney and pleading “no
contest” in a clear voice.
Judge Gerardo Sandoval reduced the charge at the request of
Assistant District Attorney Paul Brennan.
Stephanie Ong Stillman, a spokesman for the district
attorney, said the charge had been reduced because Hayashi had no criminal
history and admitted her guilt early in the legal process, and because the
crime was nonviolent.
Hayashi’s attorney, Douglas Rappaport, said the
assemblywoman was receiving medication for a benign brain tumor, which he said
had been diagnosed before the incident at Neiman Marcus. He said medical
experts had advised the defense that the tumor could have affected her
“It is being treated, so it is no longer affecting her
concentration and her judgment,” Rappaport said.
Hayashi declined requests for an interview.
Stillman said Hayashi’s medical condition was not behind
prosecutors’ decision to drop the felony charge, and that her attorney had
never addressed it in court.
“Her defense attorney never said that on the
record,” Stillman said. “Her condition never factored into our
Hayashi chairs the Assembly Committee on Business,
Professions and Consumer Protections and is married to Alameda County Superior
Court Judge Dennis Hayashi.
Assembly Speaker John Pérez, D-Los Angeles, issued a
statement after the hearing saying Hayashi had “owned up to her
“I am confident that with the close of these
proceedings, she will continue to ably serve her constituents with the same
talent and passion she has displayed throughout her time in office,” Pérez
There are no sanctions against Assembly members convicted of
misdemeanors. Those convicted of felonies are barred from serving as committee
Hayashi cannot run for re-election because she is termed out
after this year. John Vigna, a spokesman for Pérez, said he expected Hayashi to
complete her term.
“We consider the issue closed,” Vigna said.