Witness in Harris probe faces theft trial
What ever happened to the former Maui beauty queen who was a witness in the city prosecutor's investigation into former Mayor Jeremy Harris' campaign and was later indicted on unrelated theft and forgery charges?
Answer: Lisa Katherine Otsuka is scheduled for trial in Circuit Court on Oct. 23, more than four years after she was indicted for allegedly stealing money raised by a Wahiawa-based youth group. The group, Manutahi, was raising money to participate in a dance competition in Tahiti and on Maui.
Otsuka was indicted on the second-degree theft charge in September 2002, more than a year after Manutahi held a fundraiser at the Ocean Club and raised $3,035.
Otsuka, who billed herself as owner of a management consulting company at the time, assisted with gathering prizes that would be given away at the fundraiser. After the fundraiser, she took the cash that was raised and said she was going to convert it to a cashier's check and present it to the group at their next meeting.
According to court documents, Otsuka allegedly cashed the check herself two weeks after the fundraiser and kept the money.
Trial in an unrelated forgery case will follow the Manutahi trial. A November 2002 indictment accuses her of allegedly forging eight checks totaling more than $12,000 from the account of Hon/Hawaii Auto Repairs, an auto-repair shop in Kakaako that has since closed.
The cases have been delayed in part because Otsuka has gone through numerous attorneys -- she is currently on her sixth one -- and because of physical and medical conditions related to her pregnancies.
Prosecutors say they want the cases to go to trial as soon as possible so they can be resolved. The defense could not be reached for comment. Otsuka has denied wrongdoing.
This update was written by Star-Bulletin reporter Debra Barayuga.
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