Airport boss arrested
in kickback scheme

A supervisor faces multiple counts
in the theft of public money

Star-Bulletin staff

Investigators this morning arrested a Honolulu Airport supervisor on a bribery charge in connection with a kickback scheme at the airport, according to a press release from the state Attorney General's office.

Richard Okada, 61, director of Visitor Information Program for the state Department of Transportation's Airports Division, was arrested at the airport, taken to the Honolulu District Court cellblock for booking and released pending further investigation, the press release said. Authorities also executed a search warrant today at R.I. Namba Construction, at 3445 Ala Akulikuli St. as part of the investigation into the alleged scam offering kickbacks to airport employees in exchange for contracts.

Investigators expected to arrest Richard I. Namba, president of R.I. Namba Construction, and his daughter, Jodie Y. Namba, vice president of the company, later today, said Donald Wong of the Attorney General's Office.

The alleged scheme inflated the cost of hundreds of maintenance projects and offered kickbacks to airport employees between 1999 and 2001.

It more than doubled the annual expenses of the airport maintenance department to $7 million from $3 million, a source said.

It is believed to be one of the largest scams involving taxpayers' money in state history.

Last week investigators arrested maintenance superintendent Dennis Hirokawa and airfield and grounds maintenance supervisor Antonio Bio.

Hirokawa was arrested for investigation of first-degree theft and bribery while Bio was arrested for investigation of second-degree theft, an AG's office news release said. They were released pending further investigation.

Other suspects in the case may include at least a dozen general contractors hired for small-contract projects under $25,000.

Most of the projects involved minor repairs such as cracks in floors, holes in walls and replacing ceramic tile, a source said.

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