Thu, Feb 05, 2009 - Page 18 News List

Golf star’s father facing time in jail after pleading guilty

DAD IN THE DOCK The case has been stressful for Tadd Fujikawa his father’s lawyer said, after his client admitted to a US$200-a-day methamphetamine habit

AP , HONOLULU

The father of teenage pro golfer Tadd Fujikawa pleaded guilty to drug trafficking on Tuesday as his son, taking a break from practice, listened at the court hearing.

Derrick Fujikawa pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree methamphetamine trafficking. He faces prison time of at least one year, and as many as 10 years, for each count. It will be up to the judge to decide whether the sentences will be served concurrently or consecutively.

State Circuit Court Judge Steven Alm said he was inclined to impose a sentence on the low end of what’s required because Fujikawa has no prior record. Sentencing was set for April 6.

Fujikawa’s lawyer Victor Bakke said his client distributed only small amounts of drugs to support his own habit and wasn’t running a drug ring. His client was now sober and eager to remove the unwanted attention the case brings to his 18-year-old son and the young athlete’s fledgling golf career, Bakke said.

Tadd Fujikawa at 15 became the youngest player ever to play in the US Open. He turned pro at 16 after becoming the youngest player in 50 years to make the cut on the US PGA Tour, playing in the 2007 Sony Open.

“Every time we show up in court, his son’s name comes up and the history comes up. We’re just trying to get this behind us,” Bakke said. “He’s clean, he’s sober. He’s got his life together.”

The younger Fujikawa, wearing shorts and a golf shirt, attended the hearing with his mother, Lori Fujikawa, and another close relative. He’s practicing this week for the Hawaii Pearl Open and had a tee time a few hours after the morning hearing.

The 45-year-old Fujikawa was indicted last July on two counts of first-degree methamphetamine trafficking after a 2007 undercover police sting. He has been free on US$50,000 bail.

Prosecutors lowered the charge after agreeing to a plea deal. Each first-degree methamphetamine trafficking count would have carried a minimum of two years and up to 20 years in prison.

“Methamphetamine has been a terrible scourge for our community. Mr. Fujikawa took responsibility for what he did,” Peter Marrack, deputy city prosecutor, said after the hearing.

Derrick Fujikawa said in an interview last month that he had a drug problem for years, and that it got “really bad” and grew to be a US$200-a-day habit.

But he said he’s been clean for more than a year after spending six months at a California rehab clinic.

Fujikawa said he hid his addiction from his family and never used methamphetamine in front of his son.

The family didn’t speak to the media after the hearing. Bakke said the case has been stressful for the teenager.

“This is his dad. He’s trying to focus on his career and [his] dad is looking at 20 years in prison,” Bakke said. “It’s no different than if your father had cancer or [was] fighting some kind of sickness or disease.”

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