LIHUE — Alcoholism was said to be the underlying cause for an otherwise good accountant to go astray from the law and steal from a client, according to a sentencing hearing Thursday in 5th Circuit Court.
“I intend to take responsibility and do what I can to make things right,” said Christopher Harry Fought, 55, of Portland, who was charged with 89 counts related to crimes that occurred between December 2007 and July 2008.
Fought was an accountant and working for a construction company when he allegedly wrote more than 44 unauthorized checks totaling more than $30,000 against a client account, according to statements in court from County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Vogt.
He was arrested on Aug. 25, 2011, of 44 counts of second-degree forgery, 41 counts of second-degree theft, one count of first-degree theft, and three counts of third-degree theft.
Fought pleaded no contest to one count of first-degree theft, and 22 counts of second-degree forgery on Jan. 31. The state was asking for six months jail and probation.
State Deputy Public Defender Stephanie Sato asked the court for a sentence of probation, noting that Fought has performed well on supervised release for two years in the duration of this case. He had already served 60 days in jail, including time awaiting extradition from the Mainland, she said.
The defendant’s criminal history has two convictions for driving while intoxicated in 2004 and 2009, Sato said. This shows that were it not for alcohol, he would not be standing before the court on these charges today, she added.
Fought said he has taken full responsibility for his actions and has embraced his 12-step program. He said the remorse comes from the shame he brought his spouse, family and his good name.
Chief Judge Randal Valenciano denied the defendant’s motion to defer acceptance of the no-contest plea. It would have allowed the charges to be cleared from his criminal record upon successful completion of probation.
The judge sentenced Fought to a five-year term of probation and sentenced him to jail time already served and to undergo a substance abuse assessment. The court assessed a $150 crime victim compensation fee on each count for which he was sentenced — totaling more than $2,000.
Fought was also ordered to pay $21,140 in restitution. The amount is the remainder after subtracting legitimate checks that were originally added in the restitution request, Valenciano said, noting the court is not aware how restitution would effect the civil suit with a $90,000 claim.