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Thursday, November 9, 2000

City & County of Honolulu

indicted in federal
kick-back plot

The city councilman allegedly
had part of two workers' bonuses
funneled to his campaign

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

City Councilman Andy Mirikitani vows to vindicate himself and says he will not resign his office while he defends himself against federal criminal charges accusing him of accepting kickbacks.

"Obviously, I'm upset about this, but I intend to continue to serve my constituents and fight for them as I always have," Mirikitani said. "I intend to fight this in court as well."

A federal grand jury yesterday indicted Mirikitani, 45, on charges of theft, bribery, extortion, wire fraud and two counts of witness tampering.

Mirikitani is accused of giving bonuses to two of his staff aides last year and then asking them to give part of the money back to himself and his campaign fund.

City Council Chairman Jon Yoshimura urged Mirikitani to evaluate his role on the Council. "I ask Andy Mirikitani to dig down deep in his soul and do what is right," Yoshimura said yesterday.

Asked if that means he wants Mirikitani to resign, Yoshimura replied, "No comment."

Yoshimura said he does not know if Mirikitani is guilty of the charges against him.

Also named in the indictment was Sharron Bynum, 52, Mirikitani's girlfriend. She was charged as "an aider and abettor" on the theft, bribery and extortion counts.

Bynum has been a contract hire as a property manager in the Department of Facility Maintenance since July 1999, according to city spokeswoman Carol Costa. She is paid $45,000 a year.

Bynum could not be reached for comment. Mirikitani said Bynum is to be represented by a federal assistant public defender. Costa said Bynum took a vacation day yesterday.

William Harrison, Mirikitani's attorney, said the charges were the result of two disgruntled employees.

"My understanding is that all of the Council members have access to bonuses to give to their employees, and all Council members regularly give bonuses to their employees," he said.

If found guilty on all six counts, Mirikitani could be sentenced to as much as 65 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1.5 million.

Mirikitani was not arrested. Harrison said he expects his client to plead not guilty during an arraignment Nov. 17.

The indictment said that in mid-July of 1999, Mirikitani gave aide Cindy McMillan $16,916.72 in city funds. McMillan and her husband then gave $4,250 of it to the Friends of Andy Mirikitani campaign fund. Mirikitani deposited the check from McMillan into the campaign account and then withdrew $4,000, the court documents said.

City Council records showed that McMillan was making $3,619.04 a month as Mirikitani's aide when she received a one-time $16,916.72 "adjustment" on June 1, 1999.

The indictment also charged Mirikitani with attempting to influence testimony given by McMillan to the grand jury.

Mirikitani allegedly gave aide Jonn Serikawa $9,616.73 in city funds and then received back on separate occasions $1,434 and $1,000 in cash. Court documents also charge that Serikawa paid $200 to a third party on behalf of Mirikitani.

Council records showed Serikawa was making $2,333.33 a month when he received a one-time adjustment of $9,408.40 on June 12, 1999.

Mirikitani was elected in 1990 to represent Council District 5, which includes Manoa, Makiki, McCully-Moiliili and Pawaa.

City & County of Honolulu

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