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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Ex-councilwoman Mansho gets year in prison

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Rene Mansho is taken into custody in court today after being sentenced to one year in jail and ordered to pay $25,000 in restitution.

Richard Ambo • The Honolulu Advertiser
Previous Stories

Prosecutors seeking jail time for Mansho
Mansho's attorney defends her entreaties for support
Mansho appeals for help
Mansho pleads guilty to theft
Mansho could face jail

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

A state judge today ordered veteran former City Councilwoman Rene Mansho to go directly to jail and begin serving a one year sentence as part of her punishment for her guilty plea to two felony theft charges.

State Circuit Judge Dan Kochi rejected a plea by Mansho’s defense attorney to allow her to defer acceptance of guilt and serve no time behind bars although he stopped far short of the maximum prison term he could have imposed — 10 years. He also ordered her to pay $25,000 in restitution.

Kochi noted that he received many letters of support for Mansho from the community and was troubled when some charged that she was doing only what all politicians do. Were that true, Kochi said, “we place the very survival of our system of government in serious jeopardy.”

Before the sentence was reached, Mansho tearfully apologized for her actions, the first time she has publicly done so or taken responsibility for her crimes since the plea agreement was reached with city prosecutors in April.

“I’m very sorry for everything,” Mansho said, while dabbing at her face. “It was wrong, it was my fault and I take full responsibility.”

Mansho said she hoped to have another chance to do more community service. “I am ashamed and embarrassed that I have hurt so many people,” she said.

The usually colorful and effusive Mansho came to court wearing black and remained somber throughout the court hearing. It was not clear if she knew when she walked into court that she could be leaving to begin her sentence behind bars.

Mansho tearfully admitted in court today that she did wrong, but she nonetheless was sentenced to serve a year in prison.

Richard Ambo • The Honolulu Advertiser
No delay in prison time

Defense attorney James Koshiba did not ask a delay in beginning her sentence. Mansho pleaded guilty to first-degree theft of stealing at least $20,000 in city money between April 1, 1989 and Dec. 31, 2000 and second-degree theft of stealing more than $300 in her campaign money from Jan. 1, 1994 to Aug. 31, 2000. She accepted a plea agreement and prosecutors agreed to not seek forgery, racketeering and money laundering charges against her.

Mansho, 53, is a former school teacher who served on the City Council from 1988 until she resigned abruptly in April, the day an Oahu grand jury was to have heard from a dozen witnesses about allegations that she committed theft and forgery while serving at City Hall.

Koshiba argued that Mansho deserved a lighter sentence for three reasons: she accepted responsibility, her “history of good works,” and that she had cooperated with every government investigation into her affairs, including the Campaign Spending Commission probe and the city Ethics Commission investigation.

Those earlier probes resulted in her paying a total of $80,000 in fines and settlement.

Prosecution: Nobody talks about taxpayers

Deputy city prosecutor Kevin Takata rejected Koshiba’s description of Mansho as a basically charitable and hard-working official who deserved some consideration for her past good deeds

“Incarceration should be mandatory for all corrupt politicians,” Takata said. He said Mansho entered public office “not to serve but to be served.” Takata ticked off the names of other local politicians who have served prison time.

Deputy city prosecutor Randal Lee said that Mansho focused her response on how the trial had publicly affected her and her family. “Nobody talks about the people, the taxpayers,” Lee said.

Defense blames aide

Koshiba also tried to place blame for Mansho’s troubles on her former chief aide Michelle Kidani.

After the verdict, Kidani praised Lee and Takata “for their tenacity in pursuing this case.”

“I believe justice has been served and I am happy to see it end,” Kidani said.

Kidani said she believes that Mansho never took full responsibility for her actions and said she doubted that Mansho’s apology was sincere. She said she had no expectations that Mansho would receive the maximum allowable sentence.

Lee and Takata called the sentence an appropriate one.

“If anything, it corrects a wrong that was done to taxpayers,” Lee said.

The two prosecutors said Mansho offered up a public apology only after they pointed out in court that she hadn’t done so.

Kochi noted that some of Mansho’s activities appeared to serve the community and might at first seem like a mistake except that the record showed she broke the law “almost from the moment she took office.”

He added, “Sadly, the defendant for years continued to violate the law,” Kochi said.

As he left the court, Koshiba said Mansho was prepared for the possibility that she would have to go to jail. He said her last words to him were: “Goodbye, I’ll do the best I can.”

Advertiser Staff Writer David Waite contributed to this report.