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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 27, 2010

Former diplomat's son pleads not guilty to stealing from Honolulu law firm

By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer

The son of a former diplomat from the Philippines pleaded not guilty this morning to charges of embezzling at least $300,000 from a Honolulu law firm.

Nigel Salmingo, 31, believed that the A1 diplomatic American visa his father carried when stationed here bestowed diplomatic immunity on members of his family, Salmingo's lawyer Michael Green said this morning.

Salmingo was secretly indicted here last month on 37 charges related to the alleged theft of money from the Winer Meheula & Devens law firm, where he worked as an office manager until March 2009.

Federal authorities arrested Salmingo May 6 in New York City and he was extradited back to the Islands. He is being held on $500,000 bail.

Salmingo entered his not-guilty plea this morning in Circuit Court.

Honolulu deputy prosecutor Christopher Van Marter said after the arrest that Salmingo spent "an enormous amount of money on social events, at clubs and bars" and lived "a lifestyle of someone who is well-off."

The law firm detected bookkeeping problems in March 2009 when Salmingo was on vacation, and the firm brought in a former office manager to examine financial records, Van Marter said.

Within a month, the firm had referred its findings to Honolulu police for criminal investigation.

Van Marter said Salmingo forged checks, opened unauthorized credit card accounts and stole at least $300,000.

Shortly after Salmingo was confronted with evidence of the theft, he sold a BMW automobile he had purchased here with allegedly stolen money and fled to the Mainland, living first in New Jersey and later in New York, Van Marter said.