HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the first time Monday, embattled city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro responded to growing calls to step aside, saying that he was elected for four years and that his office is being run effectively.
Kaneshiro has received a target letter from the U.S. Department of Justice amid a widening public corruption probe, which has already netted lengthy indictments against ex-Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, a former top-ranking deputy in Kaneshiro’s office. Both have multiple federal trials scheduled for next year.
Four other police officers were also arrested in connection with the case and their trials are set for March.
On Monday, Hawaii News Now caught up with Kaneshiro as he left a budget meeting at city hall.
He has repeatedly ignored requests for comment and didn’t answer most of the questions posed to him Monday.
But when asked about calls for him to step aside, Kaneshiro said that he had been elected for four years, an apparent indication that he intends to serve out his term if he’s able.
He did not comment on efforts underway to impeach him, and was indignant when asked whether continuing to serve in his position was bad for the public and Honolulu’s law enforcement community.
“I was elected to serve for four years,” he said.
“I think it’s bad for the public when you folks go on harassing me. Our office is operating. Do you have any evidence that it’s not effective? It’s effective.”
Kaneshiro’s former second-in-command, first Deputy Chasid Sapolu, took a leave of absence last week after confirming what Hawaii News Now reported — that he received a subject letter also from Justice Department.
Kaneshiro has named Dwight Nadamoto as his acting first deputy.
It’s a move that indicates Sapolu may not be welcomed back as a result of his stepping down.
Sapolu was praised for the move by others in the legal community, who have been calling for Kaneshiro to also step aside while federal investigators continue their work.