Honolulu managing director appears before grand jury

An attorney for Honolulu Managing Director Roy Amemiya confirmed that his client testified before a federal grand jury Thursday, but said he is not the target of any federal investigation.

Lyle Hosoda, Amemiya’s attorney, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser today that he was confirming the information about the appearance only due to media inquiries.

Amemiya will not divulge the nature of his testimony or any other details of the investigation, Hosoda said.

“The government has requested that Mr. Amemiya not publicly disclose the fact that he had been subpoenaed in connection with a federal request and, to date, he has abided by that request,” Hosoda said, in a statement. “Now that his connection to the federal investigation has been reported by others, this statement is being provided to dispel any speculation or rumors and is in the interest of transparency.”

Hosoda added: “To honor the government’s desire to protect the investigation, Mr. Amemiya will not be publicly disclosing the specifics of his testimony, or the subject matter he was questioned about.”

Hosoda stressed that “Mr. Amemiya is not a target of the federal investigation and has not been accused of committing any crime.”

Amemiya, who is Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s second-in-command at City Hall, received a subpoena from the government and, in appearing at U.S. District Court Thursday, “did what every America is lawfully required to do when receiving a subpoena to testify in court.”

Amemiya has not received a target letter from federal authorities, Hosoda’s office said.

Federal investigators are known to be looking into two matters involving the City and County of Honolulu — one involving former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and former Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Katherine Kealoha, the other relating to allegations of wrongdoing involving the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.

As part of the investigation that led to the indictments and convictions of the Kealohas on public corruption charges, city Corporation Counsel Donna Leong received a target letter from federal authorities in January 2019. Leong has been on paid leave from the city since then.

A target letter suggests the subject is a target in a federal grand jury investigation, according to the Department of Justice website. Such a correspondence typically is issued by the Justice Department to someone being asked to appear before a federal grand jury involving an investigation into an alleged federal criminal offense.

Caldwell, in announcing Leong’s leave, told reporters that the letter involved Leong’s role in the controversial agreement between Louis Kealoha and the Honolulu Police Commission allowing the embattled chief to retire with benefits, including a $250,000 payout.

Caldwell was not available for immediate comment this morning. He has stated several times since Leong’s departure that neither he nor others in his administration have received similar correspondence.

The HART matter involves an investigation into contracts. While HART received subpoenas for records more than a year ago, no new developments or activity involving that case have not been made public. It is unknown if any individuals are being investigated in connection with the case.

Hosoda said “Mr. Amemiya has done an exemplary job as the City’s Managing Director over the last five years. He will continue to provide his leadership and guidance in moving the City’s important work forward during these critical times.”

The managing director is appointed by the mayor and typically runs day-to-day operations of the city administration.

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