Honolulu’s top deputy prosecutor announced he is taking a leave of absence after being notified more than a week ago he is the subject of an expanding federal grand jury probe into the Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and the police department.

“I wholeheartedly believe that the system I am dedicated to serving will reveal that I have done nothing wrong,” Chasid Sapolu wrote in a statement released by his attorney, Randall Hironaka.

Sapolu, a Honolulu prosecutor since 2011, emphasized in his statement that while he is not a target of the federal investigation, “as a dedicated public servant my intent is to cooperate with any law enforcement investigation.”

Hironaka confirmed that Sapolu notified Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro of his decision to go on leave Thursday afternoon.

Honolulu Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chasid Sapolu took a leave of absence Thursday.

Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney's Office

There’s still no word from Kaneshiro about his future plans after receiving notice from federal investigators that he is now a target of the ongoing federal probe.

The investigation has so far resulted in corruption and bank fraud indictments against former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife Katherine Kealoha, a former assistant prosecuting attorney. Five HPD officers also have been charged as part of the investigation.

For more than a week, Kaneshiro has refused to address the issue of the target letter or what he plans to do as a result of the notification.

Meanwhile, an online petition drive was started this week to impeach Kaneshiro by sweepstakes machine distributor Tracy Yoshimura. By late Thursday, the effort had gathered more than 660 signatures of registered Honolulu voters, more than the 500 needed under the city charter

There’s some history behind the drive. Four years ago, Kaneshiro tried to prosecute Yoshimura on illegal gambling charges. The botched prosecution resulted in Yoshimura suing both Kaneshiro and Katherine Kealoha for malicious prosecution. That case is still pending. 

“I’ve been a victim of their corrupt acts,” Yoshimura said. “It’s a massive public safety issue at this point.”

Yoshimura’s attorney, Keith Kiuchi, said the signatures will have to be verified by the city clerk and once that is done, the petition will be filed with the Hawaii Supreme Court.

A spokesman for Kaneshiro declined to comment on Sapolu’s action or the petition.

A note to our readers

While asking for your support is something we don’t like to do, the simple fact is that our reporters, our journalism, and our impact rely on it. Since lifting our paywall and becoming a nonprofit in mid-2016, our local newsroom has benefitted from a stream of charitable support from people who want our type of journalism to survive. People like you who understand that our work is essential to a better-informed community. If you value the work of our journalists, show us with your tax-deductible support.

About the Author