East Bay Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi has pled not guilty to a charge she shoplifted more than $2,400 in Neiman Marcus clothing on Sunday from the ritzy San Francisco department store, prosecutors say.
The Hayward Democrat has been charged with one count of felony grand theft.
Hayashi spokesman Sam Singer called the incident a “mistake and a misunderstanding.”
“The assemblywoman apologizes for the distraction this has caused,” Singer said. “She is a firm believer in the justice system and hopefully, it will be cleared up shortly.
“Mary has never been arrested for anything. The worst thing she ever got was a speeding ticket.”
Authorities say she was caught on video surveillance walking out of the Union Square retail outlet Sunday around 12:15 p.m. with leather pants and other assorted clothing, said Stephanie Ong Stillman, a San Francisco district attorney spokeswoman.
Neiman Marcus security staff apprehended Hayashi, whose husband is Alameda County Superior Court Judge Dennis Hayashi, outside the store with $2,445 worth of unpaid clothing items.
Prosecutors have video evidence, Stillman said.
Hayashi could face up to three years in jail for the charge, however she has no criminal history, Stillman said.
Hayashi, known for her fashion and style, is undoubtedly hoping for a swift and positive resolution.
The 45-year-old lawmaker will term out of the Assembly next year.
She has opened a committee to run for state Senate in 2014 in the newly configured District 10, whose incumbent, Elaine Alquist, D-Fremont, will term out in 2012.
She had raised nearly $200,000 for her bid as of June 30, according to state campaign finance records.
In 2009, Hayashi earned $115,000 for her state position and her husband made $165,000 on the bench.