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Former city prosecutor’s top assistants return to testify in public corruption probe

Federal prosecutors appear to be re-focusing their efforts to charge Honolulu’s former city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro as part of a public corruption probe.
Published: May. 13, 2022 at 5:34 PM HST|Updated: May. 13, 2022 at 6:39 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Federal prosecutors appear to be re-focusing their efforts to charge Honolulu’s former city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro as part of a sprawling public corruption probe.

Some of his top advisors went back to testify before the grand jury this month, years after their first appearances.

Among them: Roger Lau, who was Kaneshiro’s special assistant ― a position created for him.

Roger Lau leaving grand jury
Roger Lau leaving grand jury(None)

The last time HNN’s cameras caught him leaving the grand jury room was in 2018.

Also making a repeat visit this month: Carol Nakamura, who was Kaneshiro’s executive assistant. She was last filmed leaving in 2017.

Carol Nakamura leaving grand jury
Carol Nakamura leaving grand jury(None)

Legal expert Victor Bakke said he believes the special prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Wheat, is bringing back witnesses to clarify information and “put the final touches on the indictment.”

“When you have a high-level target, you go after the smaller people that are around that person and close to them, and they’re usually a treasure trove of information,” Bakke said.

Retired Federal Public Defender Alexander Silvert agreed.

“Clearly with all the years of information that’s gone before this grand jury, this is the end game. We’re going to get close to something happening,” he said.

Both Bakke and Silvert think the statute of limitations is coming up to charge Kaneshiro with crimes. Bakke said it is usually five years from when the government realizes a crime is committed.

Kaneshiro received a target letter from the Department of Justice in 2018 and was forced to go on paid leave. The following year, his former chief deputy of the career criminal division ― Katherine Kealoha ― was convicted of conspiracy, obstruction and bank fraud.

Katherine Kealoha, in June 2019, ahead of her detention
Katherine Kealoha, in June 2019, ahead of her detention(None)

Kealoha agreed to cooperate with federal authorities after her conviction. Many others in Kaneshiro’s office have testified, too.

Former First Deputy Chasid Sapolu also received a subject letter from the Department of Justice.

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