Top aides to former city attorney return to testify in public corruption probe


HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — Federal prosecutors appear to be refocusing their efforts to indict former Honolulu City Attorney Keith Kaneshiro in a sweeping public corruption investigation.

Some of his top advisers returned 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 leaves the grand jury(Nothing)

The last time HNN 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 in 2017.

Carol Nakamura leaves the grand jury
Carol Nakamura leaves the grand jury(Nothing)

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

“When you have a high-level target, you go to the smaller people around and near that person, and they’re usually a wealth of information,” Bakke said.

Retired federal public defender Alexander Silvert agreed.

“Obviously with all the years of information that has been put before this grand jury, it’s game over. We’re going to get closer to something happening,” he said.

Bakke and Silvert think the statute of limitations is approaching to charge Kaneshiro with crimes. Bakke said it usually takes five years from the time the government realizes a crime has been committed.

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

Katherine Kealoha, in June 2019, before her detention
Katherine Kealoha, in June 2019, before her detention(Nothing)

Kealoha agreed to cooperate with federal authorities after his conviction. Many other members of Kaneshiro’s office also testified.

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

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