Defendant in Harris
fund probe seeks delay

The attorney for an engineer accused
of illegal gifts says he needs more time

A local engineer accused of making illegal political donations to Mayor Jeremy Harris has asked for a postponement of his criminal trial, which is set to begin Monday.

Kenneth Sakai, a vice president with engineering firm R.M. Towill Corp., filed papers earlier this week asking Circuit Judge Steven Alm for a continuance due to an injury to his attorney.

An Oahu grand jury in November indicted Sakai along with Towill executives Nancy Matsuno and Roy Tsutsui, former Towill comptroller Robert Ko and Sakai's associate Donn Mende for making political donations under false names to the Harris campaign.

The secret panel later indicted Sakai a second time when it also charged Mende's mother Masae Mende, Mende's brother Jay Mende and architect John Adversalo for making illegal political donations.

If a continuance is granted, Sakai's co-defendants also will likely receive a postponement.

Sakai's attorney Reginald Minn said he recently injured his back, forcing him to work on a reduced schedule. Minn said that he needs the additional time for discovery in the case, which involves 4,650 pages of records.

Sakai's motion comes after he and several Towill executives asked the state Supreme Court last month to transfer their cases from Alm's court to the state District Court.

"I need the additional time in order to prepare pretrial motions and prepare the defense for the trial of this case," Minn said.

The city Prosecutor's Office said it is prepared to go to trial Monday.

Alm has scheduled a hearing on the motion for Monday.

Sakai is one of dozens of people linked to the Towill firm who contributed more than $300,000 in political donations to the Harris campaign since 1996. The Towill firm, one of the state's largest engineering firms, received more than $30 million in nonbid city work in the same period.


E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2004 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --