Friday, May 4, 2001

City & County of Honolulu

loses bid for trial

The councilman will go to court to
face bribery and extortion charges

By Debra Barayuga

A federal judge has refused to dismiss the indictment against City Councilman Andy Mirikitani, paving the way for him to go to trial June 5.

Mirikitani was indicted last November for allegedly paying bonuses to two staff members in exchange for them kicking back a portion to him in cash or as contributions to his campaign committee. He faces charges of theft, bribery, extortion, wire fraud and two counts of witness tampering.

The defense had argued that the indictment failed to show that any federal funds received by the city or any federal program administered by the city were affected by his alleged conduct, and therefore the conduct charged is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge Helen Gillmor ruled yesterday that a link between Mirikitani's alleged conduct and federal interests is not an element of the offense he was charged with and did not have to be included in the indictment.

The court will rule later before trial whether the government has established a link between the alleged kickbacks and federal funds. The government has the burden of showing whether the conduct charged falls under federal statutes.

Mirikitani's girlfriend, Sharron Bynum, was also indicted and will be tried for "aiding and abetting" in theft, bribery and extortion.

City & County of Honolulu

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