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Friday, March 10, 2000

Grand jury queries
former Mirikitani aides

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


Two former employees of City Councilman Andy Mirikitani are keeping quiet after appearing before a federal grand jury.

The grand jury is expected to continue an investigation into Mirikitani next week.

U.S. attorneys are spearheading the probe into whether Mirikitani gave $26,000 in bonuses to employees Cindy McMillan and Jonn Serikawa and then demanded a portion of the bonuses back.

Both were questioned for less than an hour each.

Serikawa entered the federal courthouse through a back door with attorney Keith Kaneshiro and left the same way.

"My client did what he was told by his boss to do," said Kaneshiro, stopping later to talk with reporters.

Without getting into specifics, Kaneshiro said his client regrets what he did and "I think he wouldn't do it again."

Serikawa was subpoenaed by federal investigators about the case as a witness and is himself not under investigation, Kaneshiro said, but he refused to say if his client is receiving immunity from prosecutors as speculated.

"You would have to talk to the U.S. attorney about that," Kaneshiro said. "These are procedural matters that would best come from them."

McMillan and her attorney, J. Mark Bennett, walked hastily by reporters both in and out of the federal courthouse without making any comments.

Michael Seabright, the U.S. attorney handling the case, also declined comment on the case.

Phillip Lowenthal, Mirikitani's attorney, said speculation that his client will be indicted are being "overblown" by the news media. Mirikitani has not been asked to appear before any grand jury, he said.

Mirikitani could not be reached for comment yesterday but has stated that the bonuses he gave were rewards for hard work by the two employees.

City Council records show McMillan was making $3,619.04 a month as Mirikitani's senior aide when she received a one-time $16,916.72 "adjustment" on June 1.

Serikawa, meanwhile, was making $2,333.33 a month when he received a one-time adjustment of $9,408.40 on June 16.

In December, Serikawa and another Mirikitani aide were dismissed from their jobs for what Mirikitani called poor job performance. Serikawa and the other man, in turn, filed an equal employment opportunity complaint against the councilman, saying they were verbally abused.

McMillan, meanwhile, resigned from Mirikitani's staff at the end of 1999.

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