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In her first public comment since pleading no contest to misdemeanor shoplifting, Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi apologized today for "unintentionally" taking clothing out of a San Francisco store but shed little light on what sparked the theft.

"I accept responsibility and I offer apologies, not excuses," Hayashi said in a written statement. She declined an interview request.

Shortly after the Castro Valley Democrat's arrest in October on a felony charge of stealing nearly $2,500 in clothing, Sam Singer, Hayashi's spokesman, said she had been inside a Neiman Marcus store and walked out of the store while talking on her cellular phone.

Following Hayashi's no contest plea -- which means no guilt was admitted -- her attorney Doug Rappaport said the legislator's behavior had been affected by a benign brain tumor that is curable, treatable and no longer is affecting her.

Hayashi, in her written statement today, did not address the severity of her tumor, when she was diagnosed, or what effect it had on her behavior.

"There were a number of personal factors that led to the situation where I made this absent-minded error," she said. "My medical condition may have complicated the situation, however, I want to be clear that I take full personal responsibility for my actions."

Hayashi said she is "taking steps to deal with my health" while continuing to serve as a legislator.

"After a lifetime of public service, this has been a painful experience -- but one of my own making," she said.

"The simple fact is I unintentionally walked out of a store with items I had not paid for. Of course, I intended to purchase what I had, but I didn't. Losing track of how fast you are driving is no excuse for speeding. And losing track of clothing I was purchasing is no excuse for walking out of a store without paying."

Hayashi was sentenced Friday to three years of probation and less than $200 in fines. She was told to stay more than 50 feet away from the Neiman Marcus store in San Francisco.

Assembly Speaker John A. Perez , through spokeswoman Robin Swanson, said that Hayashi has provided assurance that she is medically cleared to continue serving in the Capitol. She has taken responsibility for her actions and the Speaker's Office considers the matter closed, Swanson said.



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