HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new claim of retaliation by personnel at the city Prosecutor’s Office has surfaced.
The allegation comes from an employee at the office who says the administration made a false police report to get back at her. The woman works as an investigator for the city Prosecutor’s Office.
She has testified three times before the federal grand jury that is hearing evidence against her embattled boss, Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro.
And on February 20, Honolulu Police got a report from Kaneshiro’s special assistant ― Roger Lau ― claiming employees heard the woman threaten to get a gun and shoot the administration.
Lau’s report indicated that Kaneshiro wanted a threatening case investigated.
But the detective’s notes show the next day, on Feb. 21, one of those employees told him he did not have any recollection of the incident and “did not remember any talk about a gun.”
A second employee told the detective that he never considered any comment the woman made was a threat, and never initiated any police action, despite Lau telling the detective this employee was the complainant.
Ken Lawson, an instructor at the University of Hawaii law school, says the claim looks like witness intimidation.
“It says, we are bullies and we’re not going to allow anyone to take us down,” Lawson said, adding that the allegations aren’t surprising given previous claims of retaliation coming from the office.
“This is no different from anything they’ve done. Sooner or later, you’d think they would stop,” Lawson said.
It took HPD just two weeks to close the case, with no evidence the woman made any threats. She filed a retaliation complaint with the city’s Human Resources Office.
In a letter dated July 19, the director of Human Resources said investigator Ken Takemoto did not find evidence of retaliation by the prosecutor’s office.
But in a bizarre twist, Takemoto was offered a new job at the city Prosecutor’s Office just weeks after he cleared the office of wrongdoing.
Attorney Megan Kau, a Kaneshiro critic, says Takemoto’s hiring warrants answers.
“Did he not find that they violated the employment laws because he wanted to go there and work?" she said.
"When did they start this conversation, did they decide before he completed his investigation?”
Brooks Baehr, spokesman for the city Prosecutor’s Office, said the administration became aware of Takemoto’s work while he was investigating their office.
“His months-long investigation produced a very detailed report,” Baehr said, adding that Takemoto did not apply for a job there but that the office sought him out after seeing the quality of his work.
“Mr. Takemoto’s comprehensive report was so impressive our office contacted him and asked if he would conduct investigations for the Prosecutor’s office and provide training to our investigators,” Baehr said.
Takemoto is working part-time at the office on a three-month contract.
Lawson said the entire situation seems fishy.
“All this says is, you go ahead and complete this investigation to our satisfaction and we’ll reward you,” Lawson said, adding that even if that’s not the case, the hiring looks improper.
Kaneshiro has been on paid leave since the beginning of the year after he admitted he’d received a target letter from the Department of Justice as part of their massive public corruption case.
At least one other employee in the office has come forward to Hawaii News Now claiming she was retaliated against because she also testified against Kaneshiro at the federal grand jury.
Attorney Victor Bakke said the allegations against those in the office are serious.
“It boggles the mind why these people act this way, and why they abuse their positions, and why they think they can get away with it,” he said.
The woman who made the retaliation complaint declined to comment for this report and asked that she not be named.