Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Feds oppose request
to retry Rodrigues

By Rick Daysog

Convicted former United Public Workers State Director Gary Rodrigues and his daughter were not victims of a "miscarriage of justice" and should not be granted a new trial, federal prosecutors said.

In court papers filed yesterday, Assistant U.S Attorney Florence Nakakuni said that prosecutors were able to show beyond a reasonable doubt during a 17-day trial that Rodrigues and his daughter Robin Haunani Rodrigues Sabatini "unlawfully embezzled UPW assets."

Rodrigues, once one of the state's most powerful labor leaders, was convicted by a federal jury on Nov. 19 on 101 counts of money laundering and mail fraud stemming from a kickback scheme involving union dental and medical contracts. Sabatini was convicted on 95 counts.

Yesterday's filing was in response to a motion by attorneys for Rodrigues and Sabatini calling for their acquittal or a new trial on the grounds that U.S. District Judge David Ezra gave numerous improper instructions to the jury and that prosecutors and jury members engaged in misconduct.

"The trial evidence did overwhelmingly establish ... that defendant Rodrigues abused his position as a UPW official to cause his daughter to economically benefit from UPW-related services that were not rendered or were a sham," Nakakuni said.

Rodrigues attorney Doron Weinberg declined comment, saying he has not seen the prosecutors' filing. Weinberg, who plans to appeal Rodrigues' conviction, previously stated that his client suffered an "unmitigated injustice."

Rodrigues stepped down as the UPW's state director three days after his conviction. The union's mainland parent seized control of the local on Dec. 5.

Nakakuni said that Rodrigues and Sabatini did not prove that Ezra erred in any of his rulings on evidence or in any of his instructions to the jury. Rodrigues and Sabatini also failed to show whether any of the alleged errors resulted "in a miscarriage of justice requiring a new trial," she said.

Nakakuni also took issue with Weinberg's charge that prosecutors relied on misleading, incomplete and inflammatory evidence. She noted that defense attorneys refused to call any witnesses.

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