A Democratic California Assemblywoman is denying charges that she attempted to steal $2500 worth of merchandise from a San Francisco department store. Mary Hayashi has been charged with felony grand theft as security officers say she was caught on video stealing from a Neiman Marcus store. A spokesman for the Castro Valley Democrat defended the legislator, telling the Sacramento Bee:
"Sam Singer, spokesman for Hayashi, said the arrest occurred after she left the store while using her cellular phone.
'The incident in San Francisco was a mistake and a misunderstanding,' Singer said. 'The assemblywoman strongly believes in the justice system and is hopeful that this matter will be cleared up soon.'"
The Bee reports that security officers put the lawmaker under citizen's arrest outside the store after she left without paying for clothing items. KCRA on the alleged misunderstanding:
Hayashi plead not guilty Thursday in San Francisco Superior Court and is free on $15,000 bail pending further proceedings Nov. 15. Maximum sentence is three years in prison for grand theft, but first-time offenders typically do not receive such stiff sentences, said Assistant District Attorney Omid Talai, spokesman for the San Francisco DA's office to the Bee. Singer told the Bee that while Hayashi is embarrassed and apologizes for any misunderstanding, she has no intention of resigning from office.
The 45-year-old is not up for reelection as she is scheduled to be termed out of office next year. She is due back in court on Nov. 15, when a preliminary hearing will be set.