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Kaneshiro grand jury witness jailed for not showing up to testify

Published: Jun. 3, 2021 at 4:35 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 4:38 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An elderly executive from engineering firm Mitsunaga & Associates was jailed for several days last month after failing to report to the federal courthouse for a grand jury proceeding, Hawaii News Now has learned.

Arnold Koya, 73, is a vice president with the firm. Records from the Bureau of Prisons show he was an inmate at the Honolulu federal detention center and released on May 24.

Mitsunaga & Associates has close ties to embattled former prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, a target of an ongoing federal corruption investigation.

Numerous employees from the firm have been called to testify over several months, but Koya is the only one HNN has identified who was jailed for not showing up.

“A federal subpoena to appear before a grand jury is a court order,” said attorney Victor Bakke.

“It’s not an invitation or a request. It is an actual court order that they need to follow and appear and if they don’t this is what happens.”

Ken Lawson, an instructor with the University of Hawaii Law School, said ignoring a federal subpoena to appear is contempt of court.

Koya has no criminal history. Jailing him sends a strong message to other witnesses, Lawson said.

“This is serious stuff,” he said.

Bakke said it also sends a message to federal prosecutors. “These people are so arrogant that they feel that they do not have to comply with a court order,” he said.

The grand jury has been hearing evidence against Kaneshiro, who allegedly prosecuted a former employee of Mitsunaga & Associates employee who sued the firm after she was fired.

Many who work at the firm had donated to Kaneshiro’s campaign fund for years, including Koya.

Sheri Tanaka, the same attorney who has represented the firm, appears to be also representing the witnesses.

Special federal prosecutor Michael Wheat is leading the team investigating Kaneshiro.

That team already sent Honolulu’s ex-Police Chief Louis Kealoha to prison for obstruction and conspiracy along with two other HPD officers and Kealoha’s wife, Katherine, a former deputy prosecutor who worked for Kaneshiro.

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