Honolulu acting prosecutor gets federal subpoena to testify

Honolulu acting prosecutor gets federal subpoena to testify
Honolulu acting prosecutor Dwight Nadamoto speaks at a news conference in Honolulu, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. Nadamoto says he's been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury. Adamoto stepped in as Honolulu's top prosecutor after Keith Kaneshiro received notice from the FBI that he's a target in an investigation. Kaneshiro denies any wrongdoing. (AP Photo/Jennifer Sinco Kelleher)

HONOLULU (AP) — Honolulu’s acting prosecutor has been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury.

Dwight Nadamoto stepped in as Honolulu’s top prosecutor after Keith Kaneshiro received notice from the FBI that he’s a target in an investigation. Kaneshiro denies any wrongdoing.

A federal corruption probe brought down one of Kaneshiro’s former deputies, Katherine Kealoha, and her now-estranged husband, former police chief Louis Kealoha.

A jury convicted the Kealohas of conspiracy in a plot to frame her uncle to hide fraud that financed the couple’s lavish lifestyle. They also pleaded guilty to bank fraud. Katherine Kealoha pleaded guilty to identity theft and a drug-related charge.

Nadamoto said he can’t discuss the subpoena he received Monday. But he called a news conference Wednesday to acknowledge it after learning some members of the media already knew about it.

He’s more than happy to answer federal authorities’ questions, Nadamoto said.

“In the year since the Kealoha investigation has been going on and the federal government has been looking into the office’s practices and procedures, dozens of people have been called to testify,” he said. “Until now I have not yet been called. I suspect it’s because the federal government knows I have not done nothing wrong and that I could not assist them or provide any insight ... however as acting prosecuting attorney, they have asked for my help.”

Nadamoto said he’s not certain the subpoena is related to the Kealoha investigation. Federal investigators are also looking into Honolulu’s rail project.

City Councilman Ron Menor, chair of the executive matters and legal affairs committee, said he’s glad to hear Nadamoto will appear before a grand jury.

“It will force him to divulge information about abuses of power that took place in his office,” Menor said.

Nadamoto was “less than forthcoming and candid” when councilmembers asked him how Katherine Kealoha was able to get away with corrupt acts revealed during her criminal trial, Menor said. He said he hopes a federal investigation “will uncover the nature and extent of the corruption that took place in that office.”

Brooks Baehr, spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, said Nadamoto made clear in his testimony before the city council that it would be a conflict of interest for the prosecutor’s office to investigate itself. Nadamoto explained the federal government would be in a better position to investigate, Baehr said.

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