A former major with the Honolulu Police Department has been sentenced to eight months in jail and three years of supervised release in a plea deal Thursday with federal prosecutors.
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Carlton Nishimura accepted blame for lying to federal investigators and filing a false tax return. In a brief apology in U.S. District Court, Nishimura said it was a revelation serving time behind bars. Nishimura spent five weeks in federal detention before being released on bond.
"It's been a very, very humbling experience to lose those things that we take for granted every day," Nishimura told federal judge Helen Gillmor.
However, Gillmor lashed out at Nishimura before delivering his sentence. She said the HPD veteran had failed to set the right example for the community as well as fellow officers, and violated a court order when he contacted a woman, Doni Imose, that had testified against him to a federal grand jury.
"What he has done is place his public service into question because of his actions in these two charges and while he was out on bail," said Gillmor.
From April 2004 to March 2006, Nishimura and Imose allegedly conspired to extort cash from an illegal game room in Honolulu in return for cash. In February 2011 Nishimura was indicted on charges of extortion, tampering with a witness and making false statements.
In November of that same year, an FBI raid of Nishimura's Waianae home yielded 15 grams of methamphetamine, which resulted in drug possession and trafficking charges. However, U.S. attorney Thomas Muehleck said he was satisfied with the plea deal.
"There were issues of actually whose drugs it was," said Muehleck. "We know that Doni Imose was up there at the house, (and) there were considerations with the risk of going to trial."
In the plea agreement, Nishimura said he lied to agents when he told them he didn't tell Imose about an investigation into the United Samoan Organization, a notorious prison gang with members in Hawaii, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada. Nishimura also failed to report about $9,000 on his 2005 federal tax return.
According to Muehleck, Nishimura may have jeopardized an investigation into USO by tipping off members about a federal task force. Last month, 18 USO members were indicted on charges of federal racketeering.
"Knowledge got out that there was a task force looking at them," said Muehleck. "I can't speculate, but it very well could've made it more difficult."
Nishimura's attorney asked for home confinement for his client, but Gillmor said such a sentence would "trivialize" the former police major's crimes.
Nishimura is scheduled to report to the U.S. Marshals Service on Nov. 4 to begin serving his eight-month sentence. He must also complete 200 hours of community service and pay about $2,447 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.
It was noted in court Nishimura still receives a monthly pension for his more than 30 years of service with HPD. The amount of the pension was not made public.