2017-03-30 / Community
No sunshine for tanning-bed tycoon
Judge delivers maximum sentence to man convicted of child molestation
Gary Haw was sentenced this week to five years and eight months in prison—the maximum term possible. A jury found the 54-year-old Agoura Hills resident guilty last month on five counts of committing lewd acts with a minor, crimes that took place between 2000 and 2002, starting when his victim was 14.
Although Haw was convicted of crimes against a single individual, he is suspected of molesting other boys who worked under his charge at his Tan LA salons in the early 2000s, some of whom testified during the trial.
“Every day in custody, in my opinion, is a day the public is protected,” Ventura County Superior Court Judge David Worley said before the Tuesday sentencing.
The judge said he wished the law would allow him to send Haw away longer. The convicted man has a prior sex crime on his record.
“(Your sentence) would be in terms of decades rather than years,” Worley said.
Haw, dressed in a tattered blue prison jumpsuit with a bright orange T-shirt beneath it, showed no visible reaction when the verdict was announced. Family members in the courtroom also remained mum, but an unidentified young man stood and clapped in the crowded Ventura County courtroom after the sentence was handed down.
It is a precipitous fall for the successful local entrepreneur, who was known for driving flashy sports cars that he kept in a lavish showroom at his expansive Kanan Road home.
But Haw’s life hadn’t been without incident.
As a 25-year-old in 1988, he was convicted of felony hit-and-run and felony conspiracy to obstruct justice when an Orange County Superior Court judge determined Haw was behind the wheel of a Porsche that struck and killed a cyclist in Laguna Hills, according to a Los Angeles Times article.
Haw’s father, Ronald Haw, was convicted of obstruction after trying to take responsibility for the accident himself.
Both were also convicted of lying to a police officer, a misdemeanor, the article said.
That same year Gary Haw was convicted in Santa Monica of annoying or molesting a child under the age of 18, although he was taken off the Megan’s Law registry in 2003 when another Ventura County judge deemed him to be rehabilitated.
During her portion of the March 28 sentencing hearing, prosecutor Andrea Haney said she was surprised to see in a probation report submitted to the court that Haw had finally taken accountability for his most recent crimes.
The deputy district attorney suggested he did so in hopes of earning a lighter sentence, presenting a phone call from jail in which Haw said as much.
“At that point you decide you’re going to take the high road?” she said. “That is offensive . . . and a continuation of the defendant’s manipulation that’s been going on for decades.”
Haney said Haw had a “deviant, criminal sexual attraction to boys” and that his “concept of what is normal, what is right, is absolutely twisted.”
Not true, argued defense attorney Robert Schwartz, saying his client is a changed man, citing personality tests that indicate he is a “low risk” to re-offend.
“As (Haney) puts it, he’s a monster, and in 2002, that might be true, but what has he done since 2002?” Schwartz asked.
Calling Haw a “pillar of the community,” Schwartz said his client has helped the homeless, the elderly and veterans.
“He has completely, and I mean completely, turned his life around,” Schwartz said.
Before setting Haw’s sentence, Worley ruled against two motions made by the defense, the first for a new trial on the grounds that prejudicial evidence was allowed in the case, and the second for an arrest of judgment based on the statute of limitations.
“I think the judge got it totally wrong on the statute of limitations,” Haw attorney Wendy Lascher said after the hearing.
The defense originally argued that the three-year statute of limitations, in place in 2002 when the last crime occurred, should apply, but the court applied a newer, one-year-from-reporting statute passed by the state in the late 2000s, Lascher said.
Later—and again on Tuesday— Haw’s defense team argued that since the DA changed its original charges against Haw in 2013, the case should be considered a new one and therefore would be outside the one-year from reporting statute of limitations for these kinds of sex related crimes.
Lascher said Haw would likely appeal the case on those grounds.
The statute of limitations argument is one the defense has made—and lost—since the inception of the case, Haney said.
“They have been arguing it at some great length—not only within our courthouse in front of multiple judges but they’ve also argued that to the appellate branch as well as the California Supreme Court,” she told the Acorn after the hearing.