All three defendants formerly with IBEW Local 1260 now have court-appointed, taxpayer-funded attorneys, following a 70-count federal indictment on embezzlement, conspiracy and other charges, which Always Investigating first reported last week.
Brian Ahakuelo and two family members charged were ousted from the union years ago after a parent-union audit found irregularities that it flagged to federal and state authorities.
Several others were charged separately with misdemeanor conspiracy for helping with alleged union dues vote-rigging that raised millions, and one of those four was still employed by the union up until fairly recently.
Lead defendant Brian Ahakuelo, former head of the IBEW Local 1260, has been appointed publicly funded attorney Louis Michael Ching for the federal case, today replacing a private mainland lawyer – Patrick Anderson of Alexandria, VA — initially listed on the case. His co-defendants — wife Marilyn Ahakuelo and sister-in-law Jennifer Estencion — were given taxpayer-funded counsel last week.
Ching tells Always Investigating: “I do not believe that Mr. Ahakuelo will be taken into custody at any time in the near future,” in response to our inquiry of what may happen in the days leading up to initial appearances and arraignments on the charges coming up in federal court this Wednesday.
Estencion’s attorney, Megan Kau, told us that Estencion “maintains her innocence. We will enter a not guilty plea and ask the court to set her case for jury trial.”
Four others were charged with a misdemeanor conspiracy count for their role in an alleged vote-rigging scheme to hike union dues $3.7 million — money since paid back directly to members who had been overcharged because of the fixed vote. Michael Brittain, Lee Ann Miyamura and Russell Yamanoha had separated from the union some time ago. IBEW’s mainland parent union tells us Daniel Rose was recently terminated.
All four of them are on the court calendar scheduled to submit pre-arranged guilty pleas next week.
Yamanoha went on to be a spokesperson for Honolulu’s rail project. No update from HART today whether there has been any impact on his employment there since Friday’s charge and the public-calendar listing of the noted guilty pleas on the schedule.
We’ll follow up at federal court this week as those indicted make their first appearances.