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Newly released reports spotlight some evidence being used in Kaneshiro corruption probe

Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 6:05 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Newly-released records show some of the evidence that federal prosecutors are using in their corruption case against former city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro.

Records turned over to Hawaii News Now reveal engineering and architectural firm Mitsunaga and Associates tried more than once to get a criminal case going on a fired employee who then filed a civil lawsuit for age and sex discrimination.

The records include Honolulu police reports.

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The two officers named on those reports were recently called to testify before the federal grand jury hearing evidence about the firm’s ties to Kaneshiro.

The officers worked a case in 2012 after a representative of Mitsunaga and Associates reported that the former employee had committed crimes of theft in years prior.

HPD Officers called to testify before grand jury
HPD Officers called to testify before grand jury(None)

The firm claimed she stole $21,000 by moonlighting and double dipping.

But HPD couldn’t proceed with a criminal investigation because, the officers wrote, they didn’t get any assistance from the company representative.

“No one has called me to set up an appointment or to provide any information concerning this case” the report reads.

Despite that, somehow the case moved forward without police.

It went to the city Prosecutor’s Office instead.

Records show that Sheri Tanaka, the attorney for Mitsunaga and Associates, wrote three letters to Kaneshiro’s office in 2013. One in January, one in February and then the third in July 2013.

Tanaka makes the same claims against the employee as were made in the HPD reports.

But this time, Kaneshiro’s office pressed forward, with Tanaka providing phone records and hours billed from the former employee.

Attorney Sheri Tanaka
Attorney Sheri Tanaka(None)

Attorney Megan Kau called that process suspicious.

“Did not cooperate with the Honolulu Police Department but instead chose to only cooperate with the prosecutor’s office?” she said.

Mitsunaga and Associates leadership and their families contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Kaneshiro’s campaigns and federal authorities are investigating if the felony theft prosecution of the former employee was Kaneshiro’s way of returning the favor.

“It checks all the boxes,” said Attorney Victor Bakke. “A private company using the city prosecutor’s office for a personal vendetta.”

Arnold Koya walks out of the federal courthouse after testifying before the grand jury
Arnold Koya walks out of the federal courthouse after testifying before the grand jury(Hawaii News Now)

Federal prosecutors have brought in numerous workers and executives from the firm. One was even jailed when he allegedly ignored a subpoena to testify before the grand jury.

It appears Tanaka represents all of the employees who have been summoned.

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