Friday, December 14, 2001

Mirikitani gave aides
11th-hour salary bonus

He doled out pay raises to his
assistants just before resigning

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

In one of his last acts before leaving office, convicted former City Councilman Andy Mirikitani used money from his salary account to give a large raise to his executive secretary and a one-time bonus to another aide.

It was Mirikitani's misuse of Council salaries that led to his conviction in July on charges of theft, bribery, extortion, witness tampering and wire fraud. Prosecutors said that Mirikitani, who was sentenced last week in U.S. District Court to four years and three months in prison, solicited and received kickbacks in exchange for bonuses he gave to two other former employees in 1999.

"On the eve of his sentencing, I would say that was entirely inappropriate," Councilman John Henry Felix said when told of the recent salary changes. "I think he perceived himself as a private employer and not a public employer."

Council records show that retroactive to Nov. 1, Mirikitani gave Angelique Tepper, his administrative assistant and secretary since June, a pay raise to $3,963 a month, up from $2,677.

Council records also show that part-time aide Alice Park was given a one-time $958 bonus. Park was fired Nov. 30.

In a related development, Tepper and Maureen Andrade -- the only two aides Mirikitani kept on when he resigned -- were told yesterday they will be fired effective Dec. 21 and replaced by the three aides that Mirikitani fired at the end of November, including Park.

Mirikitani hired Andrade on Nov. 26, less than two weeks before his sentencing.

Following Mirikitani's resignation, decisions regarding staffing of the 5th District were left to Council Chairman Jon Yoshimura. He told reporters last week that Tepper and Andrade would be retained and further staffing hired as necessary.

But that plan changed, according to Dean Masuno, Yoshimura's executive assistant.

Members of neighborhood boards and other groups requested that former full-timer Rachalle Sebela and part-timers Park and Jeb Brown be rehired because they had more experience with the district.

The salaries of the three amount to about $450 less a month than that of Tepper and Andrade. The Council, Masuno said, is seeking money from all quarters to pay the $225,000-plus bill for the Jan. 26 special re-election for Mirikitani's replacement.

Tepper could not be reached for comment.

Andrade said that Mirikitani told her when she was hired that Yoshimura had promised to retain Tepper and herself beyond Mirikitani's resignation.

While she is new to staffing the Manoa-Makiki district, Andrade said, she worked two years as an aide to Councilwoman Rene Mansho and one year as a staffer to former Councilman Mufi Hannemann.

"I accept it but I don't understand it," Andrade said of her departure.

Sebela was fired Nov. 23.

Brown, Park and senior aide Jenelle Frewen, who was on unpaid leave after having a baby in the fall, were all fired Nov. 30.

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