Former liquor inspector arrested in Philippines
Advertiser Staff and News Services
An O'ahu man who was indicted in federal court six months ago for allegedly taking bribes from hostess bars and strip clubs in his capacity as an inspector for the Honolulu Liquor Commission has been arrested in the Philippines and faces extradition to Hawai'i.
Eduardo Mina, 72, was one of eight commission employees indicted in U.S. District Court in Honolulu on May 22 in one of the most widespread corruption cases in recent memory involving a Hawai'i government agency.
Mina, who is charged with extortion, bribery and racketeering, was arrested Monday in his daughter's home in the Manila suburb of Quezon City, Philippines Immigration Commissioner Andrea Domingo said in a statement yesterday.
Prosecutors allege that the eight men accepted payoffs to not enforce liquor laws at 45 Hawai'i hostess bars and strip clubs.
Arrest warrants were issued for all of them, but Mina, a U.S. citizen of Filipino descent, could not be found, and was considered a fugitive.
At least five of those indicted have pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges, and sentencing is pending. Each count in the indictment carries a maximum sentence of 20 years and fines of up to $250,000. Mina is charged with five counts.
An investigation began in October 2000 when an unidentified liquor investigator reported the alleged corruption and went undercover to help gather evidence.
The 50-page indictment returned by a federal grand jury in May detailed the incidents in which the investigators allegedly accepted a total of about $11,500 in bribes between October 2000 and December 2001.
The alleged bribes ranged from $20 at the Red Carnation in Pearl City to $1,080 from Club Rock-Za on Kapi'olani Boulevard, with most of the counts involving amounts of $100 and $200.
All eight men were charged with one count of violating the U.S. Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, also known as RICO, and other offenses involving bribery and extortion.
Domingo ordered Mina's arrest after being told by the U.S. Embassy in Manila that his passport was canceled by the U.S. State Department. That made Mina an undocumented alien unable to stay in the Philippines.
Mina will be deported within the week to Guam, where he will be picked up by FBI agents who will take him to Hawai'i, Domingo said.
"He will also be blacklisted and banned from re-entering the Philippines," she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.