Acting Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Dwight Nadamoto was served with a subpoena from federal officials on Monday, he announced on Wednesday.

He said it’s unclear to him what the feds are investigating.

“We are going to comply with it,” Nadamoto said at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

Acting Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Dwight Nadamoto said he doesn’t know which federal investigation he will be asked about. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2019

Nadamoto has been filling in for elected prosecuting attorney Keith Kaneshiro, who went on a paid leave of absence in March. Kaneshiro temporarily stepped aside after he received notice that he is a suspect in the widening federal corruption probe that resulted in the convictions of Louis and Katherine Kealoha, respectively the former Honolulu police chief and a former deputy prosecutor in Kaneshiro’s office.

The acting prosecutor said “dozens” of people from his office have been called to testify since the Kealoha investigation began, but he hadn’t been asked to speak until now.

“I suspect it is because the federal government knows I have done nothing wrong and that I could not assist them or provide any insights to them,” he said.

Nadamoto clarified though that he isn’t sure the subpoena is related to the Kealohas.

“I do not know what it has to do with,” he said.

Asked if he was subpoenaed to appear in federal court on Thursday before a grand jury, Nadamoto hesitated and said: “I’m sure we all know” but “I don’t want to say anything more.”

Nadamoto said the first page of the subpoena directed him to refrain from speaking about it “as it may jeopardize the investigation.” He said he was planning to comply with that directive, but the news got out anyway.

The subpoena was first reported by Hawaii News Now, which asked the prosecuting attorney’s office about it on Tuesday and didn’t get a response until a press conference was announced. The city administration acted similarly in January when an HNN reporter learned that Honolulu Corporation Counsel Donna Leong had received an FBI target letter. Mayor Kirk Caldwell was tight-lipped until HNN shared the news, and he held a press conference hours after the story broke.

“There is nothing more important to me and the people of this office than that we be honest and hard-working and transparent,” Nadamoto said. “So I embrace the opportunity given to me by the federal government to assist them in any way I can to help in this investigation.”

Kaneshiro himself was reluctant to confirm that he had received a target letter from the feds and did so only after mounting public pressure and a move by disgruntled citizens to impeach him. That effort continues although Kaneshiro has announced he won’t seek reelection in 2020. Nadamoto said he hasn’t spoken to Kaneshiro, except in passing, since he stepped aside.

Even though the news of the subpoena is out, Nadamoto said wouldn’t take questions about it because he didn’t want to “jeopardize the investigation.”

Nadamoto said he will continue his duties as acting prosecutor and is thinking of running to hold the position permanently.

“If I feel I can do a good job, help the people of Honolulu and help the office move forward, I will definitely consider it,” he said.

Help power our public service journalism

As a local newsroom, Civil Beat has a unique public service role in times of crisis.

That’s why we’re committed to a paywall-free website and subscription-free content, so we can get vital information out to everyone, from all communities.

We are deploying a significant amount of our resources to covering the Maui fires, and your support ensures that we can pivot when these types of emergencies arise.

Make a gift to Civil Beat today and help power our nonprofit newsroom.

About the Authors