Diplomat takes U.S. plea deal to end wife-beating case

AFP-JIJI

A Japanese diplomat in the United States who was indicted on multiple charges of domestic violence has agreed to a plea deal that will reduce his maximum sentence from 20 years in jail to just one year, prosecutors revealed.

Yoshiaki Nagaya, vice consul at the Japanese Consulate General in San Francisco, was charged in May with 17 felony offenses — 14 related to domestic violence and three to assault, including stabbing his wife with a screwdriver and an attack that knocked one of her teeth out.

Nagaya, 33, pled no contest to two counts of domestic violence in court Thursday under a deal in which prosecutors agreed to drop the other charges, including assault with a deadly weapon.

“Mr. Nagaya pled no contest, which is the same as guilty in our system, to two counts of felony domestic violence, San Mateo County District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe said Friday.

“We agreed we would dismiss (the other charges), although the judge can consider them in deciding what the right sentence will be for these two counts,” Wagstaffe said. “The judge then made the decision that he would not sentence him to more than one year in the county jail when he comes back for sentencing (Feb. 4).”

Nagaya could have been jailed for up to 20 years on the original charges.

“It’s a good resolution of the case, we’re very pleased,” Wagstaffe said, voicing his satisfaction with the plea deal.

Nobuhiro Watanabe, Japan’s deputy consul general in San Francisco, said Nagaya will remain on staff while the case winds its way through the courts.

“He’s still in service in the mission,” Watanabe said, declining to comment further. “So long as the process is ongoing we don’t have any comment to make . . . we will closely monitor (the situation) until the final judgment is made.”

Nagaya in May pled not guilty to the offenses, which allegedly took place between January 2011 and March 2012, and was released on bail of $350,000. A restraining order was issued, barring him from having any contact with his wife in the meantime.

U.S. authorities said that his vice consul status did not afford him immunity from prosecution for crimes unrelated to his diplomatic work, such as the domestic violence charges.

Wagstaffe said he did not know whether Nagaya would keep his job, saying, “In most systems . . . felony convictions would cause one to lose one’s position, but . . . I can’t speak to that directly.”