Ex-diplomat's son denies theft
By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer
The son of a former Philippine diplomat pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges of embezzling at least $300,000 from a Honolulu law firm here.
Defendant Nigel Salmingo, 31, believed that the A1 diplomatic American visa his father carried when stationed in Hawai'i bestowed diplomatic immunity on members of his family, said his lawyer, Michael Green.
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 Hawai'i.
Salmingo entered his not guilty plea yesterday morning in Circuit Court.
After the arrest, Honolulu deputy prosecutor Christopher Van Marter said 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.