Attorney for firm under corruption investigation arrested by the FBI: report
FBI agent (AFP)

On Tuesday, Hawaii News Now reported that the attorney for an engineering firm caught up in a public corruption probe has been arrested by the FBI.

"Early Tuesday morning, the FBI moved in on attorney Sheri Tanaka’s California home, taking her into custody in connection with the alleged conspiracy," reported Lynn Kawano. "Tanaka represents Mitsunaga & Associates, the engineering and architectural firm caught up in the public corruption scandal. Tanaka was indicted last week Thursday by a federal grand jury."

According to the report, the firm is accused of effectively paying off former Honolulu city attorney Keith Kaneshiro to falsely prosecute one of their former employees.

"Kaneshiro and Dennis Mitsunaga, along with employees of Mitsunaga’s company ― Terri Otani, Chad McDonald, and Aaron Fujii ― were charged with conspiracy and bribery," said the report. "According to the indictment, the firm’s employees contributed nearly $50,000 to Kaneshiro’s re-election campaigns between 2012 and 2016. In exchange, Kaneshiro allegedly prosecuted a former employee of Mitsunaga’s firm for a crime she didn’t commit. The employee had sued the firm for discrimination."

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"A state judge eventually dismissed the criminal charges against the former employee for lack of probable cause," said the report. "Records show that Tanaka wrote three letters to Kaneshiro’s office in 2013, one in January, February and then July accusing the former employee of theft."

According to the report, prosecuting an attorney for the accused as part of the conspiracy is exceptionally rare, with former federal public defender Alexander Silvert saying, “The justice department would have to approve that.”