Contractor indicted
over donations

Larry Matsuo's firm is linked
to more than $115,000 in dubious
political contributions


Wednesday, April 21, 2003

>> Larry Matsuo, former chief executive of Park Engineering, was charged through a criminal complaint with money laundering and making a political contribution under a false name. A headline on Page A3 of yesterday's paper incorrectly reported that he was indicted.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin strives to make its news report fair and accurate. If you have a question or comment about news coverage, call Editor Frank Bridgewater at 529-4791 or email him at

City prosecutors have filed criminal charges against the former head of one of the state's largest engineering firms, which is linked to more than $80,000 in questionable political contributions to Mayor Jeremy Harris' campaign.

In a complaint filed in state Circuit Court yesterday, prosecutors charged Larry Matsuo, former chief executive of Park Engineering, with one count of money laundering and one count of making a political contribution under a false name.

Matsuo's attorney, Darwin Ching, had no immediate comment.

Money laundering is a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Making a political donation under a false name is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.

The complaint was filed about a month after Honolulu police arrested Matsuo on suspicion of money laundering and making false-name donations.

Matsuo joins a list of top local engineering executives targeted by Prosecutor Peter Carlisle's two-year investigation into the Harris campaign.

During the past two years, more than 15 donors linked to major city contractors have been charged for alleged campaign donation violations. Several -- including SSFM International Inc. Chief Executive Michael Matsumoto and Royal Contracting Co. Vice President and former Honolulu Police Commissioner Leonard Leong -- pleaded no contest to the charges.

Until recently, Matsuo headed Park Engineering, a government contractor linked to more than $115,000 in political donations to Harris, former Gov. Ben Cayetano and ex-Maui Mayor James "Kimo" Apana.

A Star-Bulletin study found that Harris received $80,250 of the total while Cayetano was given $26,500. Apana received about $9,000 from people linked to the company.

The donations have also attracted the attention of the state Campaign Spending Commission, which started investigating the firm in 2002.

Under state law a donor can give no more than $4,000 to a mayoral candidate and $6,000 to a gubernatorial candidate during a four-year election cycle. Contributors also are barred from making political donations under false names.

Founded in 1958, Park Engineering is one of the state's largest engineering firms, receiving more than $5.5 million in nonbid consulting work from the city during the past eight years.

The city projects include a $1.5 million contract for sewer facilities in Kalihi Valley and a $300,000 engineering contract for the Ted Makalena Golf Course.


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