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Calif lawmaker pleads no contest to misdemeanor in shoplift case, blames brain tumor
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) ' A California lawmaker accused of shoplifting from a department store pleaded no contest Friday to a misdemeanor count of grand theft, as her attorney blamed the incident on a benign brain tumor.
Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, appeared in San Francisco Superior Court to enter her plea after the judge reduced the charge against her from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Hayashi was arrested on Oct. 23 after surveillance cameras at the Neiman Marcus store at Union Square showed her walking out the doors with unpurchased merchandise in her shopping bag. She was accused of stealing nearly $2,500 worth of clothing, including leather pants.
After the plea, she was immediately sentenced to three years of probation, ordered to pay $180 in fines and court costs, and told to stay at least 50 feet away from the Neiman Marcus store.
Shortly after her arrest, a spokesman for Hayashi had explained that she was distracted by a cellphone call and forgot to pay for the merchandise.
Her attorney, Dennis Rappaport, said after Friday's hearing that Hayashi was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor that contributed to the shoplifting incident.
"Now that Ms. Hayashi's medical condition resulting in her arrest has been taken care of, she decided that she would resolved the case as well," Rappaport said.
"Fortunately it's something that is curable and it's treatable. It is being treated," he added. "It's no longer affecting her concentration or her judgment."
Hayashi has no plans to resign from office, Rappaport said.
Assembly rules do not say what happens if a lawmaker is convicted of a misdemeanor, though someone could file a complaint with the Assembly's Special Committee on Legislative Ethics that might prompt unspecified sanctions.
Hayashi, 44, who is married to Alameda County Superior Court Judge Dennis Hayashi, has represented Castro Valley since 2006 but can't run for re-election because she is termed out of office after this year.