Tuesday, June 12, 2001

Trial to begin
for Mirikitani on
bribery and
extortion charges

U.S. attorneys say he is the
highest-ranking isle official
indicted on federal charges

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

It was on the grounds of the Hawaii State Library -- just across Honolulu Hale -- where City Councilman Andy Mirikitani on separate occasions asked two aides to accept bonuses in exchange for alleged kickbacks.

That is according to a trial brief filed by U.S. attorneys in their case against the councilman.

Mirikitani goes on trial tomorrow on counts of bribery, theft, extortion, witness tampering and wire fraud. U.S. attorneys say he is the highest-ranking elected official in Hawaii to be indicted on federal charges.

U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor will preside over the case, which is expected to last about two weeks.

Cindy McMillan and Jonn Serikawa, the two former aides, are on the witness lists, as are their spouses.

According to the briefs by Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Michael Seabright, Mirikitani gave McMillan $16,916.72 in July 1999. McMillan wrote a check for $4,000, and her husband wrote a separate one for $250, documents filed with the court said.

Both checks were deposited into the account of Friends of Andy Mirikitani later that month.

In August, according to court documents, Mirikitani withdrew the money from his campaign account and deposited them into a personal savings account.

"The evidence will show that as of August 1999 ... Mirikitani was in debt and owed a large legal bill," the documents said.

Serikawa, according to the court documents, received checks of $4,808.37 and $4,808.36 in July 1999. After the first check was given to Serikawa, Mirikitani received $1,434 in cash from him.

After the second bonus, Mirikitani received $1,000 cash.

The travel agency where Serikawa's wife worked was paid $200 for a neighbor island trip taken by Mirikitani and his girlfriend, Sharron Bynum.

Bynum is a co-defendant in the case as an aider and abettor on counts of theft, bribery and extortion.

McMillan quit her job with Mirikitani to work for the city Department of Transportation Services at the end of 1999.

A brief filed in U.S. District Court by federal attorneys said that in February 2000, Mirikitani approached McMillan and told her a private investigator working for his attorney would be contacting her.

Mirikitani, if found guilty of all counts, could be sentenced to as much as 65 years in prison and be fined up to $1.5 million.

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