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The Honolulu Advertiser
Updated at 1:36 p.m., Thursday, September 26, 2002

Witness in mayor's case sought

By Johnny Brannon
Advertiser Staff Writer

A grand jury witness in the investigation of Mayor Jeremy Harris' campaign finances failed to surrender yesterday after she was charged in an unrelated theft case on Tuesday.

Lisa K. Otsuka, 32, was released on $10,000 bail earlier this month after she turned herself in on a contempt-of-court warrant issued when she failed to appear before a grand jury convened to hear evidence in the Harris case.

Another warrant was issued Tuesday after a separate grand jury indicted Otsuka on a theft charge for allegedly stealing several thousand dollars from a dance group. Bail was set at $50,000.

Otsuka's attorney in the Harris case, Michael Green, said Tuesday he had not heard from Otsuka in about two weeks. He could not be reached for comment yesterday, but police said Otsuka had not surrendered or been arrested.

Earl Huang, who rented an 'Ewa house with Otsuka until they were evicted recently for failing to pay rent, said he did not know where she was or whether she would turn herself in.

"I have no idea," he said in a brief telephone interview before hanging up.

Investigators said anyone who knowingly harbors Otsuka while the warrant is outstanding could be charged with hindering prosecution, a misdemeanor.

Green said earlier that Otsuka likely would refuse to testify in the Harris case unless she is granted immunity from prosecution. Investigators want to know if she received any money from Harris' 2000 re-election campaign.

Harris has indicated that he does not know Otsuka, and campaign officials say they have no record of any payments to her.

The grand jury is scheduled to reconvene in October to continue exploring whether any city contracts were awarded in exchange for campaign contributions to the mayor.

Several companies that received lucrative contracts from Harris' administration have been fined for making donations to his campaign that far exceeded legal limits.

Harris and other city officials repeatedly have denied any link between campaign contributions and city contracting.

Reach Johnny Brannon at jbrannon@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8070.

Correction: The headline on an earlier version of this story was incorrect.