BY JIM DOOLEY – Honolulu police major Carlton S. Nishimura was placed on administrative leave without pay late this morning following his arrest Monday night on new federal drug charges, the department announced.

Nishimura had been receiving full pay while on leave following his February indictment on federal extortion charges.

Nishimura, 55, was working as an HPD “legislative liaison” when the indictment was returned, and then was stripped of his police powers and reassigned to “community affairs” duties by the department.

HPD spokeswoman Caroline Sluyter said earlier today Nishimura was on administrative leave with full pay while awaiting trial in the extortion case, explaining that job security protections written into HPD employment agreements limited the department’s ability to suspend or terminate officers accused but not convicted of criminal conduct.

Department spokeswoman Michelle Yu announced later this morning that Nishimura’s status was changed “to leave without pay following the latest developments.”

According to allegations in federal court papers filed yesterday, Nishimura was dealing in large quantities of crystal methamphetamine while collecting his police salary.

FBI agents seized more than a half-pound of the illegal drug – packaged in five plastic baggies – during a raid on Nishimura’s Waianae home Monday evening, according to an affidavit from Special Agent Daniel Olson.

Three digital scales were also discovered by the agents who searched the house, Olson’s affidavit said.

The original indictment returned by a federal grand jury accused him of extortion, attempted witness tampering and making false statements – crimes the federal government said were connected to illegal game room operations in Honolulu.

Nishimura was free on bail while awaiting trial in that case.

The City is not paying Nishimura’s criminal defense fees.

He is represented by the federal Public Defender’s office, which handles criminal defense work for indigent defendants.  Financial affidavits detailing a defendant’s ability to pay his own legal expenses are routinely filed under seal in federal and state courts.

Following the Monday raid at his home, Nishimura was charged with possession with intent to distribute crystal meth.

The U.S. Attorney’s office moved yesterday to hold Nishimura without bail because of the new drug charges, which are punishable by at least 10 years in prison.

The paperwork called Nishimura a “danger to the community” and alleged that he has violated the terms of his pre-trial release by possessing illegal drugs, ammunition and brass knuckles.

Despite court prohibitions, Nishimura has also repeatedly contacted witnesses against him in the extortion case, the government alleged.

A hearing on the no-bail motion will be held Friday. Nishimura is in federal custody at least until then.

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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