Second-in-command at city Prosecutor’s Office steps aside amid widening federal probe

High-ranking city prosecutor voluntarily steps aside amidst federal investigation

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city prosecutor’s first deputy is stepping away from the job amid a widening federal public corruption probe.

Chasid Sapolu, who is second-in-command at the Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office, met with city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro late Thursday to notify him he was taking leave effective immediately.

In a statement, Sapolu said he has done “nothing wrong.”

“I received a subject letter and, even though I am not a target of a federal investigation, as a dedicated public servant my intent is to cooperate with any law enforcement investigation,” he said.

The development comes as Kaneshiro is also under pressure to step aside after receiving a target letter informing him that he’s under investigation in a federal probe that has already led the indictment of the ex-Police Chief Louis Kealoha ans his wife, Katherine, a former deputy city prosecutor.

Former U.S. Attorney and Honolulu prosecutor Loretta Sheehan told Hawaii News Now this week that a target letter and a subject are different, but both are serious.

“Target letter means the grand jury has substantial evidence that you’ve engaged in criminal activity. You are going to be indicted," Sheehan said. “A subject letter you have the opportunity to possibly not be indicted to possibly cooperate or to plead to a much lesser charge. Or if you’re completely innocent, to clear up any misunderstanding.”

While Kaneshiro has declined to step down, there are moves afoot to trigger his impeachment.

A petition calling for his impeachment has garnered enough signatures to start legal proceedings.

Meanwhile, the federal investigation continues and on Thursday, another former employee of Kaneshiro’s office was called to the grand jury.

She is the ex-director of the controversial safe house for domestic violence victims that the FBI is investigating.

Sapolu’s attorney, Randall Hironaka, issued the following statement on his client’s behalf Thursday:

Effective immediately, I have decided, based on my own personal beliefs, to take a leave of absence from my position as the First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the City and County of Honolulu. I wholeheartedly believe that the system I am dedicated to serving will reveal that I have done nothing wrong. I believe in the very important mission of the prosecutor’s office. Nothing should ever stand in the way of protecting our community and compassionately serving victims through fair and honest prosecution.

I received a subject letter and, even though I am not a target of a federal investigation, as a dedicated public servant my intent is to cooperate with any law enforcement investigation. I do not make this decision lightly as it has a significant impact on my family. I continue to believe in the hard work of the employees of our office who passionately protect public safety and look forward to returning when these matters are resolved.

This story will be updated.

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