HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu City Councilmember Rod Tam has already admitted to making mistakes when he sought reimbursements for meals that had nothing to do with council business. But Hawaii News Now has learned that Honolulu police and the state Attorney General's office are now looking into whether he should face criminal charges.
"We can confirm that HPD has opened an investigation regarding Rod Tam," Michelle Yu, HPD spokesperson, said. "Yes, we are working with the state Attorney General."
The city Ethics Commission says it has turned over its records regarding Councilmember Tam's spending to police.
In March, the mayoral candidate argued that memory lapses and poor record-keeping led to him using taxpayer money for personal meals.
"The calculations sometimes were taken in terms of, I couldn't exactly recall what it was," Tam said on March 5, 2010. "But I learned a lesson. Basically, I will keep the actual cash register receipts rather than the stubs on the receipts."
Now, the investigation into whether Tam's actions were more than just mistakes, but in fact criminal, is heating up. Hawaii News Now has learned that HPD's white collar crime unit is currently conducting interviews with his colleagues.
Councilmember Ikaika Anderson says his police interview lasted 10 to 15 minutes, and that "the gist of the questioning was about the training that councilmembers may have had in filling out council reimbursement forms."
The city Ethics Commission earlier determined that between fiscal years 2006 and 2009, Tam received nearly $12,000 in reimbursements for meals that either cost less than he claimed or were not related to council business. In one case, he said he spent $88 at Kabuki Restaurant discussing the economy and education with two state employees, when it was actually a Valentine's Day dinner with his wife and two others.
Councilmembers Donovan Dela Cruz, Ann Kobayashi and Gary Okino on Wednesday confirmed that they, too, were contacted by police investigators. Kobayashi and Okino say they already completed their interviews.
"Basically, I have not received anything formal, so I have no comment at this time," Tam said about the criminal probe Wednesday.
The Ethics Commission says Tam is in the process of returning the money at a rate of about $400 a month.
More about this story on HawaiiNewsNow.com:
Honolulu council member Rod Tam stripped of chair titles after ethics ruling
Honolulu councilmember under fire
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