Accountant sentenced for embezzling more than $860,000 from 4 businesses

Published: Jul. 17, 2018 at 2:31 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 17, 2018 at 8:56 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Through theft and forgery Justin Ha stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from his employer AMH Inc. and three other business he did accounting for as a contractor.

Ha blamed his addiction.

"Your honor, I had a very bad gambling problem," he said.

At his sentencing Tuesday Ha asked the judge for probation.

"I apologize to my former employer and to all the victims for what I have done to them," he said.

Circuit judge Rom Trader sentenced the 47-year-old to ten years in prison.

"I don't care what your reason was," he said. "Nothing about that gave you the right to steal money from these people. You knew exactly what you were doing every time you did it."

Ha stole $866,000 and used the cash to pay credit card debts and student loans. He also paid for trips, and tabs at restaurants, bars and strip clubs.

Randy Norfleet's Building Maintenance Solutions was one of his victims.

"It put me out of business. I'm done!" Norfleet told the court.

"The financial impact of this is just so significant," said Austin Hirayama of AMH, Inc.

From 2013 to 2017 Ha forged 81 checks.

The judge ordered him to pay the money back. But deputy city prosecutor Chris Van Marter doubts the businesses will see any meaningful restitution from Ha.

"He has huge debts but no assets. He doesn't even have a job that produces income," he said.

Ha pleaded guilty to 85 counts of theft and forgery.

"On his own before anyone ever questioned him, confronted him, investigated it, he came forward to his bosses and admitted what he had been doing," defense attorney Thomas Otake said.

Still, Trader told Ha probation wasn't adequate for the crime he committed.

"You were selfish," he said.

"I accept whatever punishment you give me today because I know I deserve it," Ha said

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