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Government witness in ex-police major's case is sentenced

By Nelson Daranciang

LAST UPDATED: 4:39 a.m. HST, Nov 20, 2013

A government witness who told a federal grand jury that she and retired police Maj. Carlton Nishimura schemed to accept protection money from the operator of an illegal gambling house, recorded herself later telling her lawyer that she lied to the grand jury, then went in front of the grand jury again to say she didn't lie, could be released from custody as early as Wednesday.

A federal judge sentenced Doni Mei Imose Crisolo Tuesday to a year and a day in prison for conspiracy and other charges stemming from a methamphetamine trafficking ring and to a concurrent 10-month term for possessing 7.7 grams of the drug while attempting to board a flight to Las Vegas last November.

U.S. District Chief Judge Susan Oki Mollway also fined Crisolo $4,075 for both cases.

Crisolo, 42, had been in custody since her arrest at Honolulu Airport on Nov. 23. With credit for time served, she would complete her prison term later this month. She may qualify for immediate release, however, because the U.S. Bureau of Prisons grants inmates with prison sentences of more than a year up to a 15 percent reduction in their time behind bars for staying out of trouble.

She was facing a mandatory minimum 10-year prison term for her role in the drug trafficking and could have faced a mandatory minimum five years for possessing the 7.7 grams of methamphetamine.

Special prosecutor Alana Robinson recommended the one-year term because of what she said was Crisolo's substantial assistance in the government's prosecution of the drug ring and of Nishimura.

The government also allowed Crisolo to plead guilty to a misdemeanor for the methamphetamine possession, which qualified as a felony because of the amount of the drug involved.

Mollway expressed apprehension over giving Crisolo the one-year term because of Crisolo's long history of drug use. She told Crisolo that the one-year term is her one big break.

"You won't get any more," Mollway said.

Crisolo pleaded guilty to conspiracy and other charges in November 2009 for her involvement in a methamphetamine trafficking ring that included her husband and a special education teacher in Hilo.

It was during her release pending sentencing that she told a federal grand jury that she and Nishimura accepted protection money from a gambling house operator. The grand jury charged Nishimura with extortion conspiracy, lying to investigators, trying to persuade Crisolo to lie.

The grand jury later added drug  possession and tax evasion charges after Crisolo told the FBI she stayed at Nishimura's home and had a relationship with him after the grand jury had indicted him.

Nishimura, 57, was sentenced last month to eight months in jail for lying to investigators and for filing a false tax return. As part of his plea deal the prosecutor dropped the extortion, drug and witness tampering charges.

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