Reporting from Sacramento -- A California legislator pleaded no contest Friday to charges that she tried to shoplift $2,500 in clothes from Neiman Marcus in San Francisco.
As part of a plea deal, a San Francisco County Superior Court judge reduced the charges against Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi (D-Hayward) from felony grand theft to a misdemeanor. Hayashi was sentenced to three years' probation and $180 in fines and required to stay at least 50 feet from the store on Union Square.
"This is a person who didn't have any previous arrests, no convictions, no criminal history, and she also admitted guilt at a very early stage," said Stephanie Ong Stillman, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco district attorney's office.
Hayashi's attorney, Douglas Rappaport, told reporters that the lawmaker is taking medication for a benign brain tumor and that the ailment may have been responsible for her behavior.
Hayashi was arrested Oct. 25 as she left the store with a blouse, skirt and leather pants in a shopping bag. At the time, her representatives said she had meant to pay for the items but became distracted.
On Friday, spokesman Ross Warren said, "Early on she admitted she made a mistake, and today she accepted the consequences of that mistake." He added that her brain tumor has not affected her work.
Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez issued a statement supporting Hayashi. "She has owned up to her actions and taken responsibility for them," he said. "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."
Hayashi, who was elected in 2006 and will leave office this year because of term limits, is married to Alameda County Superior Court Judge Dennis Hayashi. She chairs the Assembly Committee on Business, Professions and Consumer Protection.