Former HPD Major gets 8 months in prison

Former HPD Major gets 8 months in prison
Published: Oct. 17, 2013 at 10:07 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 18, 2013 at 12:06 AM HST
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Carlton Nishimura (at podium)
Carlton Nishimura (at podium)
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Muehleck
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Muehleck

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Calling his conduct "reprehensible" and "shocking," a federal judge today sentenced former Honolulu Police Department Major Carlton Nishimura to eight months in prison.

Federal prosecutors say Nishimura compromised a federal investigation into Hawaii's dominant prison gang, the United Samoa Organization or the "USO Family."

"He knew what he was doing, providing false information on his tax return and to the FBI on a very serious investigation into the USO federal task force," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Muehleck.

"That task force is still going. It just returned a an 18 defendant RICO conspiracy indictment. And that's what the court found shocking I'm sure."

Nishimura pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return and to lying to the FBI. He also was indicted for drug possession and extortion -- for collecting payments from Chinatown gamblers -- but those charges were dropped in the plea deal.

According to Muehleck, the USO investigation was initially compromised when USO gang members discovered their phones were being tapped and they switched phones.

Still, the task force investigation has continued and last month, a federal grand jury indicted more than a dozen USO members and several former Halawa state prison guards on racketeering charges.

A 31-year HPD veteran, Nishimura headed the Criminal Investigation Division, where he oversaw investigations of major crimes such as murders, robberies, thefts and assaults.

During his sentencing, Nishimura apologized for his conduct but later declined comment with reporters as he left the federal courthouse.

Senior U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor also sentenced Nishimura to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $2,247 in restitution.

Gillmor criticized Nishimura for contacting a key witness in his case -- the wife of a USO gang member -- and for asking her to recant her federal grand jury testimony that implicated Nishimura.

She said Nishimura contacted the witness repeatedly by phone and text -- even though there was a court order that he not do so.

"His conduct while he was out on bail was shocking ... really reprehensible," Gillmor said.

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