Kaneshiro sued for malicious prosecution

Published: Dec. 31, 2014 at 12:55 AM HST|Updated: Dec. 31, 2014 at 10:50 AM HST
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Katherine Kealoha and Jake Delaplane
Katherine Kealoha and Jake Delaplane
Circuit Judge Randal Lee
Circuit Judge Randal Lee
Myles Breiner
Myles Breiner

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It was one of the largest white-collar crime cases in Hawaii history. But one month after a state judge tossed the case, the main defendant is suing.

In a Circuit Court lawsuit filed today, Tracy Yoshimura accuses Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro of malicious prosecution. His suit also alleges that Kaneshiro placed the high-profile case in the hands of inexperienced deputies who not only bungled it but abused their authority.

"Clearly, assigning this case in our opinion to frankly incompetent prosecutors who did not do their homework ... is ridiculous," said attorney Myles Breiner.

"It's incumbent upon us to stop this, stop the abusive process, to stop Mr. Kaneshiro from further proceeding with abusive prosecution."

Breiner represents Yoshimura, who is one of nine defendants charged in a sweeping 414-count indictment for racketeering, gambling promotion and money laundering.

Yoshimura was hit with 250 of those counts because prosecutors said his company Game Zone Arcades distributed the sweepstakes gaming machines that were becoming popular at local arcades and local strip malls.

But the case quickly unraveled over allegations of prosecutorial misconduct. During trial, defense attorneys were able to show that Yoshimura was in fact not the owner of Game Zone but that prosecutors didn't take steps to check that and went ahead and indicted him.

Prosecutors also relied heavily on gaming expert witness John-Martin Meyer of Nevada, when he wasn't an expert in the sweepstakes machines seized by prosecutors.

Last month, Circuit Judge Randal Lee dismissed the case, saying the prosecution presented "absolutely no evidence of gambling."

Although he's allowing prosecutors to bring a new indictment, Lee barred two of the deputies -- Katherine Kealoha and Jake Delaplane -- from taking part in any new proceeding.

A spokesman for Kaneshiro could not be reached.

Yoshimura's lawsuit names Kealoha -- who is married to Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha -- and Delaplane, who left his previous job at the Kauai prosecutor's office under a cloud.

Delaplane served as First Deputy for the Kauai Prosecutor's office, when it was sued in 2012 by former Councilman Tim Bynum for malicious prosecution. Bynum's suit was eventually settled out of court, with the county agreeing to pay him more than $250,000.

Delaplane also was the Kauai office's first deputy when it indicted the county's Human Resource Manager Janine Rapozo with theft in 2012, even though the grand jury didn't have enough votes to do so. 

That indictment, which many said was politically motivated, was thrown out.

"(This case) was flawed from the beginning, flawed with the people they assigned to the case and flawed in prosecution and presentation before the grand jury and quite frankly it speaks volumes of the failure of Mr. Kaneshiro to properly supervise his office," Breiner said.

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