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Businessman gathers signatures to oust Honolulu prosecutor

February 14, 2019
Honolulu businessman Tracy Yoshimura, left, and his lawyer Keith Kiuchi attend a court hearing on a petition Yoshimura filed to impeach Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, in Honolulu. Yoshimura said he wants Kaneshiro impeached because the prosecutor received a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice informing him he's a target in a growing public corruption investigation. (AP Photo/Jennifer Sinco Kelleher)

HONOLULU (AP) — A Honolulu businessman is gathering signatures from voters in his quest to impeach the city’s prosecuting attorney.

Tracy Yoshimura said he is pursuing the petition because Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro received a U.S. Department of Justice letter informing him that he’s a target in an ongoing corruption investigation.

Yoshimura gathered nearly 900 signatures on Change.org and filed the petition in court in December, but he said Thursday he’s getting signatures the old-fashioned way with pen and paper to ensure the names are certified. “To err on the side of caution,” he said.

It’s not clear whether electronic signatures would be accepted, said Yoshimura’s lawyer, Keith Kiuchi.

The Justice Department’s corruption investigation has already resulted in indictments against former deputy city prosecutor Katherine Kealoha and her now-retired police chief husband, Louis Kealoha. They have pleaded not guilty.

Opening statements in the trial of the couple and current and former officers are scheduled for April 1.

A separate indictment accuses Katherine Kealoha of using her position to cover up that she was dealing opioids with her brother Rudolph Puana, a pain doctor. The siblings pleaded not guilty to a 54-count indictment and were released on bond.

Yoshimura, who owns a consulting firm, was a defendant in failed gambling cases prosecuted by Katherine Kealoha.

Bill McCorriston, an attorney representing Kaneshiro, said Yoshimura’s petition has false information. He did not elaborate.

Kaneshiro didn’t attend a hearing Thursday on Yoshimura’s petition. The judge set another hearing for next month, after the City Council takes up a recommendation to hire McCorriston’s firm to represent Kaneshiro.

Hawaii’s attorney general has filed a separate petition asking the state Supreme Court to suspend Kaneshiro from practicing law. McCorriston has said that petition is based on speculation and media reports. He said there’s no dysfunction in Kaneshiro’s office.

Yoshimura said he started gathering physical signatures two days ago and has more than 100 so far.

The petition needs at least 500 registered voters. Supporters are gathering signatures “every place we can,” Kiuchi said. “They got cute shirts that says ‘impeach Kaneshiro ask me how.’ ”

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