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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Former state senator Ige gets six-month sentence

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

A state judge yesterday sentenced former state lawmaker Marshall Ige to six months in jail for his guilty plea to charges that he obtained $37,000 under false pretenses.

Former legislator Marshall Ige got prison time because he's "not getting it," Circuit Judge Sandra Simms said.

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Circuit Judge Sandra Simms ordered Ige, 47, to begin serving his time at O'ahu Community Correctional Center on July 1 for second-degree theft, attempted tax evasion and three misdemeanor counts of failing to file state tax returns.

Simms said she usually opts for probation for first-time felony offenders but chose the stiffer sentence because she felt Ige did not appreciate the seriousness of his actions.

"You're not getting it," Simms told Ige.

She made that comment after Ige launched into a rambling statement in court defending his work for Southeast Asian immigrants.

Simms allowed Ige to remain free for several more weeks after he agreed to use the time to pay back $4,400 still owed to Vietnamese orchid farmer Hanh Lam, one of his victims.

Ige also will pay more than $6,000 in back taxes.

In March, Ige pleaded guilty in exchange for the state's agreeing to drop first-degree theft and money-laundering charges. Deputy public defender Richard Sing, Ige's attorney, argued for probation. Under the plea agreement, Ige could have been sentenced to up to a year in jail.

Ige, who represented Kane'ohe and Kailua as a state representative for 16 years and a senator for four years, yesterday described the case against him as a "nightmarish" period and said "I feel relieved" that the sentencing is behind him.

"I regret going down this path," Ige told Simms. "I should never, never ever have done this."

The guilty plea for second-degree theft relates to Ige's obtaining $7,000 as a rent advance from Lam in June 1999. Although Lam's sublease was paid until June 2000, Ige threatened Lam with eviction if he didn't pay the advance.

Ige knew at the time that the California owners from whom he was leasing the land planned to evict Ige within three weeks for failure to pay back rent.

Lam, speaking yesterday through an interpreter, said he was grateful to see the outcome of Ige's sentencing. "I feel that it's very fair that he's going to jail. It will set an example," Lam said.

He also said the sentence gave him "strong faith in the United States."

Kurt Spohn, state deputy attorney general, called the sentence "courageous and fair."

In court, Spohn said: "We cannot tolerate a state senator who swindles the very people he was sworn to protect."

The attempted tax evasion charge stems from Ige's failure to disclose to the state Department of Taxation that he received $30,000 from Morris and Rita Wolfred, an elderly California couple, to have their daughter's criminal record here expunged.

Ige said the Wolfreds have been repaid and he was making restitution payments to Lam. The delay in reporting to prison will allow Ige more time to make restitution. He also was ordered to serve 100 hours of community service.