Calif. lawmaker says shoplift was misunderstanding

By the Associated Press | October 28, 2011 | 7:00 PM EDT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A California lawmaker accused of shoplifting leather pants and other clothing from a San Francisco department store says the incident was a misunderstanding.

Democratic Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi pleaded not guilty Thursday to a charge of felony grand theft.

She was arrested Oct. 23 after being stopped by a Neiman Marcus security guard. Prosecutors say she left the Union Square store with $2,445 of items in her shopping bag that weren't paid for.

Hayashi's spokesman, Sam Singer, said Friday that the incident was a mistake and she didn't mean to leave with the merchandise.

Singer says Hayashi apologizes and is hopeful the charges will be reduced or dropped. She's due back in court Nov. 14.

Hayashi has represented Castro Valley since 2006. She is married to an Alameda County Superior Court judge.