A former accountant was sentenced Tuesday for stealing from four different companies.
Justin Ha worked as the controller for the property management company AMH Inc., and did accounting work for three other companies.
Prosecutors say he forged checks and stole more than $866,000 from AMH, Windward City Shopping Center, Kailua Bay Investors, and Building Maintenance Solutions.
“We’re talking triple-digit figures in hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash withdrawals,” said deputy prosecutor Christopher Van Marter. “Beyond that, tens upon tens of thousands of dollars paid toward credit cards, paid toward student loans, loans with like five or six different companies, credit cards with like six or seven different credit card companies. He’s spending on an extreme level that has no relationship to need.”
Ha pleaded no contest in May to four counts of theft and dozens of counts of forgery. According to his attorney, the money was used to support his family and fuel a gambling addiction.
Randy Norfleet, co-owner of Building Maintenance Solutions, says his business was devastated.
“I put everything into this. It was a gamble going into this business anyway,” he said. “My employees are the best employees you could ever ask for, and they don’t get paid much for what they do. This man right here makes two to three times what they do. They lost their Christmas bonuses, put me out of business, and I’m done.
“I’m shaking. I couldn’t sleep. I never slept more than two hours at a time, because I was so mad. I was so angry. Depression,” Norfleet continued. “The ripple effects of this that it’s had on my family, on the employees, I can sit here and talk, but until you’ve gone through it, it’s like a death in the family.”
Judge Rom Trader sentenced Ha to 10 years in prison for theft, and five years for forgery, which will run concurrently with credit for time served.
Ha must also pay back the money he stole from the companies.
“Nothing gave you the right to steal money from these people. You knew exactly what you were doing every single time you did it,” Trader told Ha. “These people placed their trust in you, and you violated that trust, and there’s a ripple effect, because it’s not just you. You were selfish. You did what you thought you could do. I’m not saying you’re an evil guy, but what you did not only affected you. You devastated those people around you in that company and, sad to say, your own family.”