FBI arrests lawyer for major Hawaiian company in corruption probe


HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — There has been another arrest in the high-profile federal case against former city attorney Keith Kaneshiro, Hawaii News Now has learned.

Early Tuesday morning, the FBI moved into the California home of attorney Sheri Tanaka, taking her into custody in connection with the alleged plot.

Tanaka represents Mitsunaga & Associates, the engineering and architecture firm caught up in the public corruption scandal.

Tanaka was indicted last Thursday by a federal grand jury.


Hawaii News Now was in the courtroom when the foreman of the jury announced the replacement indictment and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Wheat asked the trial judge for an arrest warrant.

Tanaka was previously listed as co-conspirator 1 in the initial indictment handed down in June.

Kaneshiro and Dennis Mitsunaga, along with employees of Mitsunaga’s company ― Terri Otani, Chad McDonald and Aaron Fujii ― have been charged with conspiracy and bribery.

According to the indictment, company employees contributed nearly $50,000 to Kaneshiro’s re-election campaigns between 2012 and 2016. In exchange, Kaneshiro allegedly prosecuted a former Mitsunaga company employee for a crime. that she did not do.

The employee had sued the company for discrimination.

A state judge ultimately dismissed criminal charges against the former employee for lack of probable cause.

Records show Tanaka wrote three letters to Kaneshiro’s office in 2013, one in January, February and then July accusing the former employee of theft.

Hawaii News Now saw Tanaka several times before the arraignment at the federal courthouse for grand jury proceedings.

Attorney Sheri Tanaka with Mitsunaga & Associates employees Steven Wong and Glenn Okino leave the federal courthouse(None)

She acted as representative for all Mistunaga & Associates employees who were called to testify, including those who have since been charged.

Tanaka said she didn’t like news cameras or media reports on the case.

“Whoever leaked the false information to Hawaii News Now, and in particular you, Lynn Kawano, damaged the minds of the jurors, compromised the grand jury, and caused irreparable harm to Mitsunaga & Associates,” it said. she declared.

At a hearing on Tuesday morning, Tanaka was not on the appeal but lawyers for the other five defendants were.

They had not yet received the replacement indictment, but all maintained “not guilty” pleas on behalf of their clients. The trial is scheduled for March.

Legal experts said it was highly unusual for a private lawyer to be charged along with his clients.

“The Department of Justice should approve this,” said retired federal public defender Alexander Silvert.

Tanaka will have an audience in Los Angeles. Legal experts believe she will be allowed to post bond and then fly to Hawaii to appear in court.

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