Friday, June 15, 2001

Another aide
implicates Mirikitani

A second staffer testifies he
was offered bonuses in exchange
for a campaign contribution

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

Asked by an aide if it was proper to take a bonus in exchange for a campaign contribution, City Councilman Andy Mirikitani said, "Everybody does it."

That was the testimony given in U.S. District Court yesterday by Jonn Serikawa, who said he accepted $9,616.73 in bonuses from Mirikitani and then gave $2,634 back to him, most of it in cash.

Mirikitani is on trial for bribery, theft, extortion, witness tampering and wire fraud. He is charged with accepting $6,884 in kickbacks from Serikawa and Cindy McMillan, another aide, and then attempting to conceal the scheme.

Serikawa was a part-time staffer in June 1999 when he agreed to walk with Mirikitani across Punchbowl Street and sit on a bench in front of the Hawaii State Library to lay out the scheme. McMillan, in her testimony on Wednesday, said the plan was also explained to her while she and Mirikitani sat on the same bench.

"He said he had a proposition for me that would be a win-win situation for all of us," Serikawa said.

Besides offering to give him a bonus in exchange for a campaign contribution, Mirikitani also promised that he would be promoted to full time and given a $5,000 raise to $28,000 annually, Serikawa said.

Later, Mirikitani asked that the return payment be made in cash, and he agreed to do so, Serikawa said.

Serikawa also testified that he was asked to show a pay stub for his first bonus payment to Sharron Bynum, Mirikitani's girlfriend and a co-defendant in the case.

Serikawa said Bynum told him he had not given Mirikitani enough and jotted down on the stub a formula for payment she believed he should follow. The stub was shown to jurors yesterday on an overhead display.

Mirikitani stared at Serikawa, shook his head and smiled during much of his former aide's testimony yesterday, actions which caught the attention of at least several members of the jury.

Judge Helen Gillmor has yet to rule on whether Deputy U.S. Attorney Michael Seabright will be allowed to bring into evidence a controversial tape and transcript of a conversation between Mirikitani and Serikawa that took place at a Tantalus park.

Serikawa, wearing a wire at the behest of the FBI, attempted to get Mirikitani to acknowledge the kickback.

Mirikitani defense attorney John Edmunds is expected to cross-examine Serikawa sometime on Tuesday when the trial resumes.

Edmunds, during his opening statement on Wednesday, suggested that Mirikitani never asked for or received contributions of any sort from Serikawa except for repayment of loans.

Edmunds also is expected to attempt to discredit Serikawa, who yesterday acknowledged that he had a felony drug conviction and several misdemeanors for contempt of court tied to traffic offenses but had not reported that record when he applied for a job with Mirikitani.

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