March 20, 2017
The self-proclaimed “Gingerbread Man” is running from the law no more. Amery Kahale-Sugimura was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Monday March 13, 2017. The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Dean E. Ochiai, First Circuit Judge.
On Jan. 11, 2017 Kahale-Sugimura pleaded guilty to 20 charges in five separate cases dating back to 2013.
The charges include two separate counts of Promoting a Dangerous Drug in the First Degree, a Class-A felony. In addition, Kahale-Sugimura pleaded guilty to four separate auto theft charges; other drug violations; firearm violations; first-degree burglary; third-degree assault; first-degree terroristic threatening; first-degree unauthorized entry into a dwelling; resisting arrest and driving without a license.
Judge Ochiai also ordered Kahale-Sugimura to pay nearly $20,000 in restitution.
Kahale-Sugimura committed many of the crimes listed above after posting bail for various charges.
Prior to the cases that started in 2013 Kahale-Sugimura had criminal convictions dating back to the 1990s. Those convictions include robbery, burglary, auto theft, forgery, and theft and drug violations.
Kahale-Sugimura labeled himself as the “Gingerbread Man” for his perceived ability to elude police. A Specialized Services Division team ended that run Feb. 16, 2017 when officers arrested Kahale-Sugimura in Waianae.
The “Gingerbread Man” reference comes from a fairy tale that had its origins in 1875 with many variations since. In the tale a gingerbread cake made in the shape of a man by a couple with no children comes to life and escapes the home after being fully baked.
To everyone he met as he ran the fairy-tale gingerbread man bragged that no one could catch him. That ended when he encountered a clever fox which outsmarted him and promptly ate him for lunch.
Mar. 3, 2017
Honolulu City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro hosted 25 students from several high schools in Okinawa on Feb. 22, 2017. They were in Hawaii as part of the Hawaii-Okinawa High School Student Exchange Program.
Kaneshiro explained to the students the process of investigating and prosecuting a reported crime, particularly when the victims are visitors to Honolulu. He also held a brief question-and-answer session.
Visiting with the students were Etsuo Arakaki and Megumu Ishimine of the Board of Education, Okinawan Prefectural Government. Also traveling with the group was Daisuke Ameki, an English teacher at Kaiho High School and Takako Maruyama and English teacher at Chinen High School.
Jane Serikaku, Executive Director of the Hawaii United Okinawa Association, coordinated the event with officials from the prosecutor’s office.
The Hawaii-Okinawa High School Student Exchange Program started in 1990. It was established by the Legislature which partnered with the state Department of Education and the Hawaii United Okinawa Association.
The program’s goals include providing students an opportunity to learn about diverse cultures of other countries, fostering and sustaining good relationships between foreign countries and Hawaii and fostering a sense of “internationalism” in today’s youth.
Students stay with a host student and his or her family for about two weeks. They attend school, participate in high school events and visit cultural and historical sites.
Hawaii students will be going to Okinawa in June.
Jan. 26, 2017
There was a successful soft launch Thursday Jan. 26, 2017 of a joint effort by the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney, the State Office of the Public Defender, Oahu Office, and the Hawaii Judiciary that aims to resolve dozens of pending cases for individuals while at the same time providing those individuals with needed services.
The court cases, which were deemed minor or so-called nuisance cases, were settled not with the usual fines or jail time but with community service instead. These outcomes are agreed to ahead of time by the prosecuting attorney and the public defender.
Four homeless individuals who collectively had more than 50 pending citations and/or warrants appeared before The Honorable Clarence A. Pacarro.
Following the hearing the individuals were teamed with counselors and service providers to address their varying humanitarian needs. Representatives from the Economic Development Center of Parents and Children Together and the Oahu Jail Diversion Program were on hand to provide services.
Community Outreach Court holds people accountable, reduces backlogs in the courts and the public defender’s office and provides an opportunity for individuals to receive services to help them move forward in their lives.
Community Outreach Court is the result of more than a year of planning by Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro, Oahu Public Defender Jack Tonaki and Hawaii Supreme Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald.
This project is funded in part by a grant from the Department of Justice. The Center for Court Innovation assisted in implementation. The ultimate goal is to bring the court and the treatment team into the community to resolve pending cases and provide services. For now all parties will meet at the Honolulu District Court building twice per month.
January 24, 2017
Updated March 28, 2017
Honolulu City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro was joined by members of his staff and representatives of the Hawaii Law Enforcement Association on Jan. 7, 2017 as the HLEA donated a 2016 Nissan Quest minivan to the Honolulu Family Justice Center. (In March of 2017 the name of the facility was changed to Honolulu Prosecutor’s Safe House)
The mission of the HPSH is to provide safe and secure transitional housing for victims of domestic violence, sex assault and human trafficking.
Support from the community is vital to helping the center fulfill its mission.
In a thank-you letter to the association Kaneshiro said, “Your gift will help us fulfill that goal as the van will be used to provide safe transport for the victims to appointments outside of HFJC.”(Honolulu Prosecutor’s Safe House)
HLEA Donates Van to the Honolulu Prosecutor’s Safe House – Media Release (PDF) (Updated March 28, 2017)
KEITH M. KANESHIRO
JANUARY 2, 2017
Today’s inauguration is an opportunity to inform the public of the initiatives of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Initiatives of the programs and priorities that we have begun and new initiatives that we will embark upon.
First, let me review some of the initiatives that we have begun and will continue.
We will continue to advocate for victims and be their voice in the criminal justice system. The elders, the children, and of course, the animals need to be protected in our system of justice.
This year, we opened the Honolulu Family Justice Center that will provide secured housing and services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. Victims will now have a safe place to go where they would not have to be concerned about rent and living expenses, as well as being threatened or harmed further.
Many thanks go to Council Chair Ernie Martin and Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi, as well as Mayor Kirk Caldwell and his Administration for believing in this initiative.
Honolulu was one of seven offices throughout the U.S. that received a 2-year federal grant to prosecute difficult sex assault cases. These are cases where victims were intoxicated and were exploited. This funding will add two additional prosecutors to specialize in sex assault cases.
With the help of the State Legislature we received funding for 5 additional prosecutors to focus on the career criminals on Oahu. Thanks go to the Legislature for this much needed state funding. We are seeing many more crimes being committed by repeat offenders who were on probation or released from prison.
We will continue to aggressively prosecute people who profit from sex trafficking. We recently initiated contacts with prosecutors from Asian countries to collaborate with them on sex trafficking cases where victims or criminals originate from those countries. We have already closed down three massage parlors and have indicted the owners. With deputy prosecutors, Dwight Nadamoto and Lynn Matsuoka, we are working with the Dept. of Homeland Security on additional investigations.
Now let’s look at the new initiatives that we will focus on:
With tourism being one of our top industries in this State, there’s an urgent need to protect our tourists. They need to know that Hawaii is a safe place.
We have seen certain criminals targeting tourists. So, we will be focusing on these criminals who target tourists. We will establish units that will work closely with the police, businesses, and community groups in Waikiki and Windward Oahu where a lot of these crimes are occurring. It will not matter whether these crimes are misdemeanors because we will return the victims to Hawaii to testify at trial. Deputy Prosecutor Jan Futa will be supervising this initiative
This tourism prosecution project will be a start of an Intelligence Based Prosecution strategy where we will use all the data that we have and prosecute the major criminals in each district of this island. This initiative is done in New York City and has been proven to be very effective. Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha will supervise this initiative.
To further strengthen the skills of our attorneys, we will begin extensive training of our deputies to screen and charge cases. Armina Ching, our most experienced deputy in screening, will conduct this training so more deputies can prosecute cases from beginning to end.
Of course to make room in our court system to prosecute these dangerous criminals, we need to alleviate the courts of its tremendous congestion of minor cases.
We will work with State Senator Jill Tokuda, Representative Gregg Takayama, Public Defender Jack Tonaki and the courts on legislation to establish a Community Court on Oahu. Many of the homeless violations will be converted to community service instead of jail and fines and thus many cases will be taken off the court calendar. Services will be provided to those in need. Deputy Prosecutor, Jeen Pang will spearhead this initiative.
These are just some of the initiatives that we will be continuing or starting.
At this time I would like to talk about public perception about law enforcement and the criminal justice system. As they say perception is reality. But that is not true in Hawaii today. Perception about law enforcement in Hawaii should not be based on what is happening on the mainland with police where there is divisiveness within the community. In Hawaii, the police are a vital part of the community. They come from the community. Our police do a good job in protecting the public. And respect for law and order is vital to a safe community. Perception is based on the public media because that is the only way the public gets information. Inaccurate or incomplete reporting should not shape perception. We must make sure that the information that the public gets from the media is accurate and complete. Sometimes, because of our ethical rules as prosecutors we are prohibited from discussing on-going cases. Thus, the media will only present one view of the prosecution—the defense’s version. We need to assure that misperception does not occur.
There are also laws that prevent our public discussion of cases. An example is anything happening in Family Court is confidential by law. Not discussing what is proceeding in Family Court does not mean nothing is proceeding in Family Court. Public perception is important to your work. Jury perception will impact jury verdicts. We need to educate the public about the cycle of violence and why victims of domestic violence act the way they do. We need to educate the public that protection of the abuser by the victim does not mean it is okay to not hold the abuser accountable. Also, being intoxicated does not mean the victim consented to sex. Family, friends, and supporters of our prosecutors can help us educate the public and correct misinformation when it occurs.
It is our job to ensure that there is justice for victims as well as defendants.
Being a prosecutor is a noble profession. All of you have a tremendous duty and obligation to uphold. We are not the “bad guys”; we are the “good guys”.
1. Chris Van Marter, who has been a prosecutor for 24 years prosecuting the complex white collar cases;
2. Mark Yuen, prosecutor for 20 years, supervising deputies;
3. Donn Fudo, prosecutor for 27 years, appellate expert.
4. Lahoma-Fernandes-Nakata, prosecutor for 34 years.
Or those prosecutors who left to go to private practice and returned because of the meaningful work that they missed; ask:
1. Rodney Veary
2. Dean Young
3. Kristine Nakamatsu
To the deputy prosecutors, we have many challenges ahead of us so let us go forward and continue to keep Honolulu a safe place to live.
To all of you, thank you so much for allowing us the opportunity to serve the public and to fight for public safety.
Have a Happy New Year!
December 13, 2016
Today, officers from the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) arrested Tamila A. Alcoran, 49, after she was indicted by the O‘ahu grand jury and charged with 311 counts of Identity Theft in the First Degree, Computer Fraud in the First Degree, Theft in the First Degree, Identity Theft in the Second Degree, Theft in the Second Degree, and Forgery in the Second Degree. The case was presented by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chris Van Marter.
In 2008, Alcoran was hired as the Office Manager of Greg Boyer Hawaiian Landscapes Inc. That same year, Alcoran embarked on a series of sophisticated and prolonged embezzlement schemes against the company. Alcoran used the owner’s personal information to obtain numerous fraudulent credit cards, and thereafter used those cards to obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise and services. Alcoran then diverted funds from the company bank account to pay off the credit card charges. In addition to the credit card scheme, Alcoran also accessed the owner’s online investment account, sold off the stock, and thereafter used the funds for expenses that were of a purely personal nature. Alcoran also forged company checks and used those checks to pay the rent of her Kane‘ohe residence. Further still, Alcoran forged checks and made them payable to a “dummy corporation” that she created and that “existed only on paper”. Further yet, she forged checks and made them payable to herself. Alcoran also forged checks to drain the personal and business equity accounts of the owner and his wife. Lastly, Alcoran applied for about a dozen fraudulent loans using the personal information of the owner, and thereby obtained, and later spent, hundreds of thousands of dollars on expenses that were of a purely personal nature. In all, during the period from 2008 through 2014, Alcoran stole $1.3 million dollars from the company and the company’s owner. As a result, the company went bankrupt, the owner’s credit was ruined, and the owner was sued by the lenders when the fraudulent loans weren’t repaid.
Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro said, “Today’s indictment represents one of the worst cases of embezzlement against a small business that’s been prosecuted in recent memory. The Prosecutor’s Office takes embezzlement cases against small businesses very seriously, especially when the case involves the misuse of technology. In 2012, the Prosecutor’s Office re-wrote Hawai‘i’s computer crime laws to strengthen the penalties for those who use technology to commit crimes.”
If convicted of the computer and identity theft charges, Alcoran faces a twenty-year prison term without the possibility of probation.
Today’s indictment was the result of a lengthy investigation conducted by HPD’s Financial Crimes Detail.
November 10, 2016
Katy Sterio, who was granted probation in 2013 after scamming an elderly man out of more than $20,000, was sentenced to 10 years in prison Wednesday for continuing to engage in criminal conduct.
In August, Sterio pleaded no contest to multiple counts of credit card theft, identity theft and fraudulent use of a credit card in four separate incidents that took place this year.
In 2013, she pleaded guilty to theft charges after convincing the elderly man to help pay for her nonexistent medical bills. She was granted probation after agreeing to repay the man.
On Wednesday, Judge Glenn Kim revoked her probation and sentenced her as a repeat offender.
Deputy prosecutor Scott Spallina, head of the prosecutor’s Elder Abuse Unit, handled all of the cases.
November 9, 2016
Prosecuting Attorney Keith M. Kaneshiro has been reelected to a four-year term.
Kaneshiro defeated challenger Anosh Yaqoob by receiving 200,905 votes, or 69 percent of the votes cast. Yaqoob received 52,496 votes.
“We have accomplished many things these past four years,” Kaneshiro told supporters Tuesday night. “But we still have many challenges ahead.”
Kaneshiro thanked Oahu’s voters for their confidence in him and also for overwhelmingly approving a City Charter amendment that provides budgetary autonomy for the prosecutor’s office.
Going forward, once the prosecutor’s budget has been approved by the City Council, the mayor cannot delay or withhold any of that funding. Voters approved the change by a margin of 189,357 votes to 76,656.
This is Kaneshiro’s second term as prosecutor since he returned to the office by winning a special election in 2010.
Under his tenure, the office has prioritized sex trafficking, elder abuse, domestic violence, sex assault, animal cruelty, illegal drugs and cybercrimes.
October 17, 2016
More than 80 prosecutors and law enforcement officers from around the world gathered in Waikiki September 28-30 for the 2016 International Sex Trafficking Summit.
The summit – co-sponsored by Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith M. Kaneshiro, City Council Chair Ernie Martin and the National District Attorneys Association – provided participants the opportunity to exchange ideas and strategies and to forge new working relationships based on their common goal of prosecuting those who profit from sex trafficking.
“I am reminded that even as we gather in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, we cannot escape the reality of what brings us here,” Kaneshiro told participants. “It is the shared knowledge that sex trafficking is a global evil and that the responsibility for bringing traffickers to justice falls upon us all.”
Over the course of three days, prosecutors from the Philippines, Kansas, Thailand, New York, Taiwan, Massachusetts, California, Japan, Korea, Illinois, Hawaii and the People’s Republic of China provided presentations of issues unique to their jurisdictions and methods for prosecuting traffickers.
Kaneshiro’s presentation focused on the office’s efforts against brothels operating as massage parlors and the use of racketeering statutes to charge the owners of these businesses.
Among the participants were Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey; New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.; Suffolk County (Mass.) District Attorney Daniel Conley; Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha; Xiangjun Zhang, Deputy General Director of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate of the People’s Republic of China; Darlene Pajarito, Executive Director of the Philippines’ Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking; Jatuporn Saenghiran, Senior Prosecutor in Thailand’s Office of the Attorney General; and Atsushi Sato, Director of Public Security in Japan’s Ministry of Justice.