The former state senatorBy Rick Daysog
is arraigned on charges of
stealing from his 1996
Former state Sen. Milton Holt today pleaded not guilty to charges that he stole campaign funds from his unsuccessful 1996 re-election effort.
Holt appeared today in federal court to enter his plea during an arraignment, accompanied by his attorney, Reginald Minn, and an unidentified man.
"I think the federal prosecutor made a mistake," said a subdued Holt, before his court appearance before Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren. "I'm embarrassed by this situation."
His attorney then cut off further questions as they headed into the court building.
In court, Kurren set Holt's trial for 9 a.m. Dec. 15. Under conditions of his plea, Holt was told to post $25,000 bail.
As conditions of his bail, Holt was told to refrain from excessive use of alcohol, and that he would be subject to random drug and alcohol testing. He also cannot leave Hawaii.
A federal grand jury indicted Holt earlier this month on two counts of theft involving his campaign fund.
The indictment said that Holt, between 1993 and 1996, wrote four campaign checks totaling $14,695 to a local printing company, Ryan's Graphics Inc., and its president, Neal Kunimura.
Ryan's and Kunimura then returned $9,940 to Holt, who pocketed the money, the indictment said.
If convicted, Holt faces up to five years in prison for each of the two criminal counts. He also could be fined up to $250,000 for each count.
Federal prosecutors would not say if additional indictments would be handed down as a result of their investigation into Holt's campaign finances. But they said that their probe is ongoing.
For Holt, the indictment could be the first of several criminal charges he may have to face. The state Campaign Spending Commission recently notified Holt, his employer Bishop Estate and several estate contractors that they could face criminal charges over related campaign spending violations.
Holt, who is employed as a special projects officer at the estate, was regarded as a brilliant lawmaker and behind-the-scenes power broker in the Legislature. But he's also well known for his tussles with the law.
In 1992, Holt spent two days in jail after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor spouse-abuse charge.
Holt, who lost his senate seat to Suzanne Chun Oakland in 1996, also acknowledged that he charged more than $20,000 on Bishop Estate credit cards at local strip clubs and Las Vegas casinos.
Bishop Estate Archive