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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, June 20, 2002

Law now ousts officials upon felony conviction

Advertiser Staff

An elected official convicted of a serious crime would be removed from office upon conviction, not sentencing, under a bill signed into law yesterday by acting Gov. Mazie Hirono.

Andy Mirikitani served on the City Council five months after he was convicted.

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The bill was prompted by the case of former City Councilman Andy Mirikitani, who kept his council seat for five months after his July 2001 felony conviction on federal corruption charges.

Mirikitani was convicted July 3 of theft, bribery, extortion, wire fraud and witness tampering for offering two former city aides bonuses if they gave him back part of the money.

On Dec. 5 U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor sentenced him to a term of four years and three months, which he is serving at a federal prison in Nevada.

House Bill 771 says if an elected official is convicted of a crime that disqualifies that person from office, the date by which they shall step down is the date of conviction, not the date of sentencing.

Hirono is acting governor while Gov. Ben Cayetano is on a trade mission to South Korea and Vietnam.