BY JIM DOOLEY – An 82-year-old convicted felon with a long and checkered history in the travel business here donated nearly $4,000 worth of travel benefits to the political campaign of Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro, a Hawaii Reporter investigation shows.
Walter “Jack” Kitagawa donated travel coupons that were raffled off by the Kaneshiro campaign in a fundraising event, said Carol Nakamura, Kaneshiro’s executive assistant.
Nakamura said she knew nothing more about the donations or Kitagawa and directed questions to him. Requests for comment left at a telephone number supplied by Nakamura were not answered.
Kitagawa was convicted of forging Hawaiian Airlines boarding passes in 1991, was fined $10,000 and sentenced to five years of probation.
In 1985, Kitagawa was convicted of a series of felony gambling offenses and ordered to serve a year in jail and five years of probation, court records show.
In 1998, the Prosecuting Attorney’s office, headed at the time by now-Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle, attempted to seize Kitagawa-owned computers and computer programs that were used by another travel agent, James “Jimmy” Lee, in a $600,000 theft case.
Lee told police that he had bought his travel business from Kitagawa and that Kitagawa had told him to use client trust account money to pay company expenses, including office rent owed to Kitagawa, according to court records.
Kitagawa denied those allegations and said he rented equipment and office space to Lee but had no role in the company’s operations.
Carlisle’s office dropped its attempts to seize the computers and software from Kitagawa.
In 2004, a travel agency run by Kitagawa called Jackie’s Travel closed its doors after it was sued by a charter airline for alleged non-payment of more than $2 million in debts.
The suit was later settled for undisclosed terms through closed-door arbitration.
Kitagawa’s attorney at the time, David Gierlach, said virtually all customers of Jackie’s Travel received refunds for travel arrangements that were cancelled because of the legal dispute.
In 2005, Jackie’s and its parent company, TM Travel, agreed to a license revocation action brought against them by state regulators for licensing violations and for failure to pay business debts, according to state records.
By that time, Kitagawa was involved in a new travel venture, Jackie’s Vegas Tours, operated by parent company called Double ZZ, Inc.
Last year, the Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate won a rent collection suit against Double ZZ concerning office space the company occupied on University Avenue.
Kitagawa filed a cross complaint in that case against a California couple listed as executives of Double ZZ.