A former Honolulu police major who retired in 2011 amid allegations that he extorted money from the operator of an illegal gambling house pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to felony charges.
Carlton Nishimura, 57, pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about what he told a prosecution witness and to filing a false income tax return in 2005. He faces a maximum five-year prison sentence for the lying charge and maximum three-year term for the tax evasion charge at sentencing in October.
He said he lied when he told FBI special agents in March 2010 that he didn't tell prosecution witness Doni Crisolo -- also known as Doni Mei Imose -- that there was a federal task force investigation of the Hawaii prison gang United Samoan Organization.
Nishimura said he underreported his 2005 income by $9,413.
The government claims an Internal Revenue Service agent arrived at that figure after conducting an extensive investigation into Nishimura's bank records, 2005 divorce, tax returns, records of expenditures and transcripts of interviews between Nishimura and FBI agents. The FBI suggested in court records that Nishimura earned the unreported income through illegal gambling.
The FBI also claimed that Nishimura received about $6,000 per month in extortion money from the illegal gambling house operator between April 2004 and March 2006.
In return for the guilty pleas to lying and tax evasion, the federal prosecutor promised to drop extortion conspiracy, witness tampering and methamphetamine possession charges against Nishimura.
The government had claimed that Nishimura conspired with Crisolo to get money from Crisolo's ex-husband, the gambling house operator, for protecting the operation and for harassing his competitors. The government also claimed Nishimura told Crisolo to lie to investigators and that he possessed 16 grams of methamphetamine in his Waianae home.
Crisolo, 41, was the key prosecution witness in most of the charges against Nishimura.
She was free on bond after pleading guilty to conspiracy for her role in a methamphetamine distribution ring. She testified to a grand jury that indicted Nishimura in February 2011 on charges of extortion conspiracy, witness tampering and lying to investigators. The following month she secretly recorded a conversation with her then-lawyer in which she told the lawyer that she lied to the grand jury under pressure from the FBI.
Crisolo later admitted that soon after she made the recording, she initiated contact with Nishimura and started a sexual relationship with him.
The FBI said it was unaware that Crisolo was frequently visiting Nishimura at his home and that the two also stayed in Waikiki hotels.
After the FBI discovered the relationship, its agents raided Nishimura's home and recovered the methamphetamine.
Crisolo then said, contrary to what was on the recording, that she did not lie to the original grand jury and testified in front of another grand jury that added the methamphetamine and tax evasion charges against Nishimura.
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