Tony Rutledge’s son
is indicted by
federal grand jury

Aaron Rutledge is accused of
tampering with a witness in 1997

By Debra Barayuga

An ongoing federal investigation into Unity House President Anthony "Tony" Rutledge apparently has netted the younger of his two sons.

A federal grand jury indicted Aaron Rutledge, 32, yesterday with one count of witness tampering.

The indictment charges that on Oct. 30, 1997, Aaron Rutledge persuaded another person to withhold, conceal or destroy evidence from a federal grand jury proceeding and a related criminal investigation.

Michael Green, attorney for Aaron Rutledge, could not be reached for comment.

Tony Rutledge, reached yesterday at Unity House offices, said he had no idea what the indictment is about but that federal authorities have been investigating him and anyone connected to him for the last five years, resulting in a few indictments.

The latest, however, has hit too close to home, he said.

"Whatever it is can't be anything serious," he said.

Aaron Rutledge has worked for Unity House for the past four years as special-events and sports coordinator.

"He's a good boy, never been in trouble," Tony Rutledge said.

Previously, Aaron Rutledge was secretary-treasurer of his family's Star Beachboys Inc., a concession at Kuhio Beach. He began running the business after his grandfather, Art Rutledge -- retired leader of Local 5 and the Hawaii Teamsters -- died in September 1997, but lost the contract four years ago.

Special Attorney Ted Groves, with the U.S. Department of Justice's Tax Division, one of two attorneys handling the case, said he could not comment on ongoing investigations.

The date of the alleged crime by Aaron Rutledge was the same day search warrants and subpoenas were served on Unity House, Local 5 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union, and his grandfather's Kahala home, exactly five years ago on Oct. 30, 1997. Federal agents had spent hours at the three locations seizing records and examining computer files.

Agents also seized receipts for the beach concession that his father had kept at home, as well as receipts deposited into a bank account, Tony Rutledge said.

He said no arrests or indictments came out of those searches. People associated with Rutledge, however, have since been indicted on other charges.

Former executive director of Unity House Roderick "Roddy" Rodriguez and former Unity House consultant Roberta Cabral were indicted in August 2000 on charges stemming from schemes to defraud the nonprofit labor organization.

Cabral is to be sentenced today in U.S. District Court after pleading guilty in June to failing to pay taxes and using offshore accounts to hide her income from the state and federal government. Rodriguez died of an apparent suicide the day he was to be arraigned.

Aaron Rutledge is expected to be arraigned Nov. 18 in U.S. District Court. Witness tampering is punishable by a maximum 10 years' imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Unity House

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