Former television sports anchor and current HART employee Russell Yamanoha pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court today to conspiring to rig a union election when he was an IBEW Local 1260 official.
Yamanoha faces a maximum one-year prison term at sentencing.
He became an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers member when he started working at KHNL as a photographer. He later became a sports reporter and sports anchor. After KHNL ended its in-house news operation, Yamanoha joined IBEW as business representative. He later became the union’s assistant business manager and director of media.
Yamanoha has been working as an information specialist for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation for the past two years.
The election in 2015 was over an unpopular proposal to increase the dues the union collects from its members.
The government says then-IBEW Local 1260 Business Manager/Financial Secretary Brian Ahakuelo made the proposal because he needed to replenish more than $1.4 million in union money he had embezzled.
A federal grand jury returned a 70-count indictment last month charging Ahakuelo, his wife Marilyn Ahakuelo and his sister-in-law Jennifer Estencion with wire fraud, money laundering, embezzling union assets and conspiracy. All three pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to stand trial in October.
Yamanoha and three other former union members provided investigators details of how they rigged the election at the local’s Guam unit and are expected to continue their cooperation in the prosecution of the Ahakuelos and Estencion. Daniel Rose, Michael Brittain and Lee Ann Miyamura are scheduled to plead guilty later this month.