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Assemblywoman charged with shoplifting at Neiman Marcus

October 28, 2011 |  4:35 pm

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi (D-Hayward) has been charged with felony grand theft after allegedly shoplifting at Neiman Marcus in San Francisco.

The incident, caught on video surveillance, occurred Tuesday afternoon when the lawmaker left the department store with a shopping bag containing items worth $2,450 that she hadn’t paid for, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday.

Hayashi was charged with one count of felony theft and pleaded not guilty, the newspaper said. Neither representatives from the San Francisco Police Department nor the city's district attorney's office returned calls for comment. Her spokesman, Sam Singer, called the incident “a mistake and a misunderstanding,” adding “she has never had more than a speeding ticket in her life.”

He said Hayashi had planned to purchase the items – even calling a salesperson to set up the transaction on a separate floor – but then “got distracted, had a snack in the cafe” and left the store.

Security approached her “before she had a chance to walk back in,” Singer said.

“The assemblywoman apologizes for the misunderstanding and for the distraction it has caused,” he said. “She strongly believes in the justice system and is hopeful this matter will be cleared up shortly.”

Hayashi, who will term out of the Assembly next year, heads the lower house’s Committee on Business, Professions and Consumer Protection. She is married to Alameda County Superior Court Judge Dennis Hayashi.

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez said he was withholding judgment.

“The speaker believes that it’s important that all the facts come to light through the court process and that Ms. Hayashi has the same right to due process as everyone else,” said spokesman John Vigna. “It’s important this issue be resolved in the appropriate venue of the courts.”

--Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento