Petition to impeach embattled city prosecutor filed in state court

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
Published: Dec. 18, 2018 at 8:48 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The effort to impeach embattled Honolulu City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro is officially underway.

On Tuesday, a petition to impeach Kaneshiro was filed in state court — and copies were delivered to the state Capitol, Gov. David Ige and Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

It’s a significant development in a case that’s gripped Hawaii’s law enforcement community.

Earlier this month, Kaneshiro received a target letter from the U.S. Department of Justice informing him that he’s under investigation as part an ongoing public corruption probe.

That fact has prompted many in the legal community to call for him to step down.

But he’s indicated he has no plans to do so. And on Monday, he told HNN that his office was running “effectively.”

The man behind the effort to impeach Kaneshiro is Tracy Yoshimura — who Kaneshiro’s office unsuccessfully prosecuted twice for distributing game machines.

Yoshimura also delivered copies of the petition to the mayor’s office and City Council Chairman Ernie Martin.

Kaneshiro is elected, so voters can only remove him through a recall or impeachment.

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Yoshimura needed 500 signatures to get the process started.

He says there are more than 800 on the petition he delivered Tuesday.

“The main reason we’re doing this is to no. 1, protect the integrity of the cases that are currently in the Prosecutor’s Office as well as cases that may have previously been handled during Keith’s tenure,” he said.

Yoshimura was supported in the impeachment effort by Nonohe Botelho, who believes Kaneshiro’s office failed in prosecuting a man charged with killing her son.

“This has a tremendous impact for victims and their families and nobody is talking about that,” she said. "When you get a notice saying the defendant was dismissed or case overturned, I cannot tell you how devastating that is.”

Botelho’s son Joel was gunned down in 2011, but the crimninal case was overturned.

She fears other cases could be reopened and possibly dismissed because of the federal investigation targeting the Prosecutor’s Office.

The same investigation has already led to indictments against ex-Police Chief Louis Kealoha, his wife Katherine, a former top deputy prosecutor, and several police officers.

The city Prosecutor’s Office did not respond to requests for comment on the impeachment filing.

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