Pearl Harbor museum worker admits stealing $170,000
By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Jim Dooley
A Waipahu grandmother who worked as an accounting and human resources assistant at the Arizona Memorial Museum admitted yesterday to stealing $170,000 from the charity, a federal prosecutor said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Clare Connors said from May to October 2005, Fe Nakahara, 43, took a total of $170,000 in cash receipts, spending it on herself, family members and her boyfriend.
Nakahara pleaded guilty to charges of larceny and filing a false income tax return yesterday afternoon before Magistrate Judge Kevin Chang.
She faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 when she is sentenced in February.
"I took money," Nakahara told Chang in court, adding that she "failed to report the money as income when I filed my tax return."
Nakahara's job at the memorial included verifying cash receipts.
Connors said cash shortages were first detected at the Memorial Museum about two months after Nakahara first started stealing money.
Connors said Nakahara spent the stolen money on trips, gifts for her family and other expenses, including a set of golf clubs for her boyfriend. She was employed by the organization from 2002 to 2005.
None of the money has been recovered.
Tom Shaw, chief executive of the Arizona Memorial Museum Association, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Nakahara told Chang she is taking medication for depression.
Connors said federal prison medical personnel diagnosed Nakahara as suffering from "schizo-affective depressive disorder" but determined that at the time of the offenses, "she knew the difference between right and wrong" and that she understands the court proceedings against her.
In the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2005, about 1.69 million people visited the Arizona Memorial. The nonprofit organization reported $11.7 million in total revenues that year, according to its tax return.
The next year, 1.7 million visitors went to the memorial, with total revenues increasing to $12.5 million.
The memorial is operated by the National Park Service and admission is free. The Arizona Memorial Museum Association is a nonprofit that supports the memorial and raises money from contributors and by operating bookstores.
Reach Jim Dooley at email@example.com.