Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Investigator arraigned
in bribery case

By Debra Barayuga

A former liquor investigator accused of taking bribes in exchange for ignoring liquor violations left Hawaii for the Philippines earlier this year and was unaware he had been indicted by a federal grand jury, his attorney said.

Cliff Hunt, attorney for Eduardo Mina, who was arrested Nov. 25 at his daughter's home in Quezon City, said they will challenge the government's contention that he is a flight risk at a hearing Thursday in U.S. District Court.

The government is expected to ask that he be detained without bail.

Although Mina had been questioned by federal investigators before leaving Hawaii on Feb. 5, he did not hear from them after that, so he left for the Philippines, where he has been living and volunteering at a church, Hunt said.

Mina, 72, pleaded not guilty yesterday before U.S. Magistrate Kevin Chang to charges of conspiracy, bribery, racketeering and extortion.

Mina was among two supervisors and six liquor investigators with the Honolulu Liquor Commission who were indicted May 22 for allegedly taking bribes from hostess bars and strip clubs from October 2000 to December 2001. So far, five co-defendants have changed their not-guilty pleas and will not be going to trial.

Kenneth Wright, Samuel Ho, William Richardson Jr., Collin Oshiro and David Lee reached agreements with the government to cooperate in the investigation, including testimony at trial against any remaining co-defendants.

Mina, Arthur Andres and Harvey Hiranaka are set for trial in February.

Mina is a retired Philippine colonel and lawyer who made an unsuccessful bid for the state Senate in 2000.

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