Calif. lawmaker says shoplift was misunderstanding

AP News
Posted: Oct 28, 2011 7:31 PM
Calif. lawmaker says shoplift was misunderstanding

A California lawmaker accused of shoplifting leather pants and other clothing from a high-end department store said the incident was a misunderstanding and she didn't intentionally steal the merchandise.

Democratic Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi pleaded not guilty Thursday to a charge of felony grand theft. She was arrested Oct. 23 after she was stopped by a Neiman Marcus security guard. Prosecutors said she left the Union Square store with $2,445 worth of items in her shopping bag that weren't paid for.

District attorney's spokesman Omid Talai said Neiman Marcus provided prosecutors with video surveillance, but he wouldn't say what the footage showed.

Hayashi's spokesman, Sam Singer, said she didn't mean to leave the store with the merchandise and is hopeful the charge will be reduced or dropped at her next court date, Nov. 15.

"The assemblywoman apologizes for the misunderstanding and the distraction," Singer said Friday.

Hayashi, who is married to Alameda County Superior Court Judge Dennis Hayashi, has represented Castro Valley since 2006.

The first Korean-American elected to the Assembly, Hayashi, 44, can't run for re-election next year because of term limits.

She has authored several bills, and in 2010 was behind a law signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that broadened campaign reporting requirements for companies that mail fliers in support of political candidates.

This year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Hayashi's bill requiring school districts to immediately remove an athlete from a school-sponsored athletic activity if he or she is suspected of suffering a concussion or head injury. He also approved her medical association-supported bill to help medical peer-review committees share information.

Before her election, Hayashi was appointed to the state Board of Registered Nursing. Much of her campaign backing has come from medical interests, including the California Dental Association and California Medical Association.

She previously founded the National Asian Women's Health Organization, described as the nation's leading health advocate for Asian Americans, and the Iris Alliance Fund, a mental health foundation that worked to prevent suicides.

She chairs the Assembly Committee on Business, Professions and Consumer Protections.