Former City Managing Director Roy Amemiya receives target letter

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Former City Managing Director Roy Amemiya has received a target letter. Amemiya’s attorney said his client received the letter on Thursday, June 17.

In July 2020, Amemiya received a subject letter from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and had to testify before a federal grand jury.

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A target letter from the DOJ usually means there is evidence against the person who received it. Former Attorney General of Hawaii Doug Chin said a target letter is more serious than a subject letter.

“A target letter is often considered very serious because it is an indication by the federal government to whoever is getting the target letter that they may have committed a crime, and so may is a loose term,” Chin said. “It doesn’t mean that a person has been charged with anything.

Amemiya was able to carry on with his duties with the City through the end of Caldwell’s administration despite receiving a subject letter in 2020.

Chin said, “If somebody started off as a subject of the investigation and now they are the target it’s definitely a indication from the government that there’s been more evidence that’s been developed.” 

Amemiya remains on City dime, City Councilmember Calvin Say brought him onboard as a special projects manager.

In a statement, Say said, “I can only speak to what I know to be true, which is that Roy Amemiya has served this office as a Legislative Aide working on special projects since the beginning of my term. His service to me and to Council District 5 has been sincere, honest, diligent and invaluable.”

Say’s office confirmed Amemiya has been placed on administrative paid leave.

Chin said there is no legal timeline for those who receive a target letter and there is also no guarantee that criminal charges will follow.

In 2019, Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro and City Corporation Counsel Donna Leong both went on paid leave after receiving target letters.

Chin said, “Keith Kaneshiro, other individuals have received target letters and they actually haven’t been charged with anything.”

At this point it is unclear why Amemiya was sent the target letter.

Chin said, “If they go to the federal grand jury in this case and obtain an indictment, there will be a public filing that says this is the criminal charge that that has occurred against this person we’re not at that stage yet.”

Others in the prosecutor’s office received subject letters. Federal subpoenas and a search warrant related to a rail investigation involved the City and rail authority staff in 2019.

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