A state assemblywoman accused of shoplifting at a Neiman Marcus store in San Francisco's Union Square pleaded no contest today to a misdemeanor charge and her attorney said a benign brain tumor might have led to the incident.
Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Hayward, initially pleaded not guilty to a felony grand theft charge after her arrest on Oct. 25 at the store at 150 Stockton Street and was released on $15,000 bail.
A security guard had stopped Hayashi with items worth $2,445 that she had not paid for, according to prosecutors.
Hayashi, 45, appeared in court this afternoon and changed her plea after the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor.
Judge Gerardo Sandoval immediately sentenced Hayashi to three years of unsupervised court probation and ordered her to stay 50 feet away from the Neiman Marcus store. She was also ordered to pay $180 in fines and fees, which she promptly did after leaving court.
Hayashi, who was wearing a pair of cheetah-print high heels, a green jacket and black slacks and had a black Chanel purse slung over her shoulder, declined to speak to reporters following the hearing.
Hayashi's defense attorney Douglas Rappaport said outside of court that the assemblywoman has a benign brain tumor that may have impacted her decision-making abilities.
Rappaport said the tumor is curable and treatable and "is no longer affecting her concentration or her judgment."
He said, "according to (medical) experts," the tumor has likely impacted her behavior.
The information about the tumor was "recently" presented to prosecutors, he said.
Rappaport indicated outside of court that the case could have been dismissed today, giving the district attorney's office the opportunity to refile charges.
"In the spirit of compromise, now that Ms. Hayashi's medical conditions resulting in her arrest have been taken care of, she decided to resolve the case as well," he said.
After an unrelated news conference this morning, before learning that the charge against Hayashi would be reduced to a misdemeanor, District Attorney George Gascon said he and his office would support such a change.
"We're dealing with a first-time offender, and if the court decides to go in a different direction, we're going to support that," Gascon said.
Although Gascon said prosecutors felt that there was clear evidence to treat the crime as a felony, he added, "the way that we begin a case is not always the way that the case ends, and that is also part of the process."
Bay City News