Big Island man apologizes for theft 35 years later

By Nana Ohkawa
Published On: Dec 06 2013 06:31:00 AM HST

Back in the 1970's in New York City, 8th grader Mike Goodman, trying to prove he was tough to his peers, targeted another 8th grader, Claude Soffel. After a chance encounter through Facebook, Goodman was able to apologize to Soffel for stealing his bus pass all those years ago.

HONOLULU -

Mike Goodman from the Big Island has always tried to be a good role model for his son, but in his youth he wasn't always kind.

Back in the 1970s in New York City, eighth-grader Mike, trying to prove he was tough to his peers, targeted another eighth-grader Claude Soffel.

"I said, hey you got a bus pass and I passed his back pocket and saw he had a bus pass wallet," said Goodman.  "Took it out.  Took the bus pass and started to walk down the stairs of the museum.  There were detectives that were right there.  I got arrested right away."

When Goodman turned 18, the arresting officer tracked him down with a stern reminder.

"He said, 'I just wanted to tell you you're 18, you seem like a nice guy.  Stay out of trouble.  You'd now really get in trouble if I arrested you,'" said Goodman.

Years passed, but Goodman could never forget just how mean he had been to Soffel, a name that stuck with him.

Then, recently, he spotted that name on Facebook.  Finally, his opportunity to apologize.

Soffel, miles away in New York, read the words with disbelief.

"I'm very sorry. I wish it never happened, but it did," said Soffel, reading the words on the computer screen.

More than three decades after the incident, Soffel accepted Goodman's apology.

"Michael Goodman, clearly you are quote a bigger man today so let's now put this in its proper place behind us," said Soffel reading his words to Goodman.

Click here to watch Nana Ohkawa's story.

A weight lifted off his shoulders, Goodman says this has been a life lesson for his eighth grade son, who now calls him a hero.

"I've been really proud of my dad.  I've been hugging him a lot," said Sol-i Goodman.

"I think I taught him that it's very important to know we make mistakes in life and you just have to apologize," said Goodman.  "Sometimes step up and it's scary and it might hurt, but hopefully the person will forgive you.  The situation is remedied by that you can both find peace."

Goodman says he has been in touch with Soffel.  They're now Facebook friends and are trying to plan a trip to visit each other.

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