Baldwin cuts plea bargain

Former Kaua’i civic leader Gary Baldwin cut a plea bargain Friday in a Maricopa County courtroom in Phoenix, Ariz.

He plead guilty to one count of theft with other charges filed against him dropped, if he pays back $260,000 to an Arizona eye doctor by March 25.

Baldwin is now scheduled to be sentenced on that date. He was scheduled to go to trial in Maricopa County beginning Jan. 27 on theft and fraud charges.

Maricopa County Attorney’s Office spokersperson Bill FitzGerald said if Baldwin fails to pay the agreed upon payment to the owner of the Delaney Eye Clinic in Phoenix the state will have the option of withdrawing the plea bargain. It’s possible Baldwin would then face trial on the original charges filed against him last summer.

FitzGerald said Baldwin plead guilty to one count of theft committed between October 1 and December 15, 1984. He said the crime would be punishable by 1.87 years in a Maricopa County jail, but a stipulation of the plea bargain will allow Baldwin to reside on Kaua’i under court-directed supervision instead of serving jail time.

The crime will be designated as a misdemeanor if the payment of $260,000 is made in full on March 25, FitzGerald said.

Baldwin retired from his position as head of the Kaua’i Economic Development Board late last year and was replaced by former County Housing Agency administrator Mattie Yoshioka as managing director of the non-profit organization.

He is a former head of the County Planning Commission and former Kaua’i board member of the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, as well as head of an accountability committee of the state’s tourism authority. Citing medical reasons, Baldwin resigned from the HTA last year prior to his arrest.

He is now reportedly working with the Economic Development Alliance of Hawai’i, a group made up of economic development leaders from each of Hawai’i’s counties.

Baldwin was arrested by FBI agents at his Waipake home near Kilauea in July, on a charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. Maricopa County Sheriffs’ records indicate Baldwin was indicted by a grand jury near Phoenix, in 1986, for allegedly defrauding an Arizona-based eye surgeon of around $300,000. The federal flight charges were later dropped.

Following his arrest, he spent time in the Oahu Community Correctional Center and was released on $274,000 bond, with some of the funds raised on Kaua’i .

He later agreed to be extradited to Phoenix to face the felony theft and fraud charges. Maricopa County authorities allowed Baldwin to stay in Hawai’i while awaiting trial.

– TGI Editor Chris Cook can be reached at mailto:ccook@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 227).

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