BY JIM DOOLEY

Honolulu Police Department Major Carlton S. Nishimura has been indicted by a federal grand jury on criminal charges related to illegal game room operations.

The charges against Nishimura, 55, include extortion, attempted witness tampering and making false statements.

The offenses allegedly occurred from 2004-2006, when Nishimura was a captain.

He is the highest-ranking HPD official to be charged with a federal felony offense in recent memory. In 2001, Asst. Chief Rafael Fajardo and Maj. Jeffrey Owens were charged in state court with second-degree theft offenses.

Nishimura was indicted yesterday and surrendered to federal authorities today, making an initial appearance in court this afternoon. He pleaded not guilty and was released pending further court action.

Sources told Hawaii Reporter the charges are related to Nishimura’s friendship with a woman involved in the operation of illegal game rooms in Honolulu.

Police Department spokeswoman Michelle Yu said Nishimura is a 30-year HPD veteran and is currently working with the department’s legislative liaison office.

She said his police authority has been restricted but “as of right now” he is still assigned to legislative liaison duties.

According to the indictment, Nishimura conspired with his unnamed female friend to extort money from an individual “engaged in the operation of an illegal game room” in Honolulu.

The alleged extortion included use of Nishimura’s position as a police officer, the government alleged.

In 2009, Nishimura “attempted to corruptly persuade” the woman to lie to FBI agents, the indictment charged.

Nishimura told her to say her relationship with him “was limited to assisting (him) in introducing an undercover police officer into illegal game rooms,” the government charged.

She was also told to say “there was no exchange of moneys” although she had delivered cash to Nishimura “on a regular basis in 2004, 2005, and 2006,” the indictment said.

In December of last year, Nishimura lied to FBI agents when he told them he had not spoken to the woman about the investigation.

Nishimura has served in the vice detail in the past and worked as both a captain and a major in the department’s Criminal Investigation Division.

Read the indictment here: Indictment

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Jim Dooley joined the Hawaii Reporter staff as an investigative reporter in October 2010. Before that, he has worked as a print and television reporter in Hawaii since 1973, beginning as a wire service reporter with United Press International. He joined Honolulu Advertiser in 1974, working as general assignment and City Hall reporter until 1978. In 1978, he moved to full-time investigative reporting in for The Advertiser; he joined KITV news in 1996 as investigative reporter. Jim returned to Advertiser 2001, working as investigative reporter and court reporter until 2010. Reach him at Jim@hawaiireporter.com