Former sports anchor, union official sentenced to probation for his role in corruption scandal

Russell Yamanoha was convicted in 2019 for helping to rig union votes.
Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 6:06 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Former KHNL sports anchor and union official Russell Yamanoha has been sentenced to two years of probation and was fined $5,000 for his role in a union corruption scandal.

Yamanoha, the former assistant business manager for the IBEW Local 1260, was convicted in 2019 for helping rig union votes. Outside of court today, he apologized for the harms he caused.

“I am very sorry for all the people that were adversely affected. But that was a tough situation to be put in and I made the wrong decision,” he said.

“I feel so bad that they had to go through this that. You know, the union is supposed to be there for the members.”

The union rigged the votes to increase membership dues to fund the lavish lifestyle of Yamanoha’s former boss Brian Ahakuelo. Critics said that given his news background, Yamanoha should have known better.

“It’s just very distressing to have someone with a background in news and journalism to be that in a position where he looked the other way at something that obviously was wrong,” said investigative reporter and blogger Ian Lind.

The judge could have sentenced Yamanoha to up to a year in prison but didn’t because of his cooperation with federal prosecutors in helping to convict Ahakuelo on 69 counts of embezzlement, wire fraud and conspiracy.

“He’s cooperated completely and the government has indicated that his testimony was essential for their conviction of Mr. Ahakuelo,” said Yamanoha’s attorney Michael Healy.

“Russ did not profit from his actions in any way. He didn’t get a penny from this. The only thing he was trying to do is avoid losing his job.”

Yamanoha added: “I made that decision then, I regretted it ever since, I apologize to everybody who was adversely impacted.”