Hearing on illegal
gifts is canceled

Evidence against a firm's
secretary was to be presented

City prosecutors canceled yesterday's grand jury hearing into illegal political donations after it referred its investigation of an employee of local engineer Dennis Mitsunaga to the state attorney general's office.

The Oahu grand jury was to hear evidence against Terri Otani, who is a secretary and director at the local engineering firm of Mitsunaga & Associates Inc.

Prosecutors identified the firm's president, Dennis Mitsunaga, as a target of their investigation last year. A deputy prosecutor said then that a local engineer told them that Mitsunaga helped secure government contracts.

Campaign investigators also have alleged that Otani helped direct tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from dozens of local engineering firms and architects to the campaigns of former Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris, former Gov. Ben Cayetano and former Maui Mayor James "Kimo" Apana.

Prosecutors and the attorney general's office had no comment on the case, including why it was transferred to the AG's office.

Attorneys for Mitsunaga have said he played no role in the awards of nonbid contracts. They said Mitsunaga was recuperating from a serious illness at the time he is alleged to have helped secure government contracts for donors.

Mitsunaga also submitted to the Star-Bulletin the results of a 2004 polygraph test that indicated he and Otani did not solicit illegal campaign contributions.

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