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FBI seizes computers from city Prosecutor’s Office in Kealoha case

  • STAR-ADVERTISER

    Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, Katherine.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro.

FBI agents served the Honolulu’s Prosecutor’s Office with a search warrant today as part of the ongoing federal corruption investigation involving the city’s outgoing police chief and a deputy prosecutor, officials said.

The move allowed the FBI to search servers at the office one day after a federal judge took possession of two work-related laptops belonging to Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, according to her attorney, Myles Breiner. Kealoha and her husband, outgoing Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha, have been embroiled in a grand jury investigation into alleged conspiracy and corruption that centers around them and several police officers.

According to Breiner, the investigation’s special prosecutor, Michael Wheat, issued a subpoena Thursday for Katherine Kealoha to turn over two of her work laptops. However, Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro and Breiner each objected, he said. Kaneshiro, Breiner said, worried that the laptops’ seizure could affect ongoing criminal investigations, and Breiner worried their seizure could violate attorney-client privilege.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Seabright then took the laptops into custody, Breiner told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Breiner said the FBI’s separate search warrant today for computer servers at the Prosecutor’s Office today could be a way to avoid at least the attorney-client privilege issues.

“It’s a hunting expedition. They’re looking for things,” Breiner said. “It’s a very broad-spectrum search warrant.”

FBI Special Agent Arnold Laanui issued a statement confirming that “special agents were conducting investigative activity at the Office of the Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney” on Richards Street today. Citing FBI policy regarding ongoing investigations, Laanui said the agency “will not be providing, at this time, any statements regarding the subjects of its investigation, identities of victims, or the purpose of today’s activity.

“Preserving the integrity of our investigation, as well as the integrity of the Prosecutor’s Office is a primary concern to the FBI. We wish to keep disruptions to their operations to a minimum,” he said.

In a brief written statement this afternoon, Kaneshiro said, “FBI agents served a search warrant at the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney this morning. This office fully cooperated with the agents and provided information requested in the warrant.”

The office offered no further information.

Kealoha, who last week agreed to retire, is still working out the details of his compensation package with the Police Commission. On Dec. 20, the chief placed himself on voluntary paid leave after the FBI sent him a “target letter” informing him that he is the focus of a criminal investigation.

The grand jury investigation stems from a family feud involving Katherine Kealoha’s uncle Gerald Puana. Puana was accused of stealing the mailbox in front of the Kealohas’ Kahala home in June 2013. Alex Silvert, Puana’s defense lawyer, accuses Chief Kealoha of purposely triggering the mistrial to avert a not-guilty verdict that would have undercut Katherine Kealoha’s standing in a civil case against Puana.

On Dec. 16, retired HPD officer Niall Silva pleaded guilty to conspiring with other police officers and Katherine Kealoha to frame Puana for the theft of the mailbox.

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  • I’ve been saying this all along! They will all fall like a house of cards! FBI doesn’t play Banana Republic games, they know the prosecutor is hiding and fabricating lies so he’s next on the indictment. Caldwell is NEXT!

      • Gees, haven’t you seen, you live in Demoncrat infested state. Until the Grubber subjects get informed on the issues and if only SA starts investigating and reporting REAL news and not Fake news, nothing will change anytime soon.

  • HA HA HA HA HA!! And down comes the old boy House of Cards!! First Kealoha, then his wife, then her boss…and save that last dance for Caldwell.

    I am SO impressed with the FBI this year. They’re taking out the trash in Washington and right here in Honolulu, and I think we should all feel very fortunate to have guys and girls who are willing give up promising and lucrative careers to be placed in shameful banana republics like Honolulu and spend thousands of hours chasing around MO-RONS like our city “leaders” for often less than a quarter of what they’d be paid working in big law or accounting firms.

    Mahalo to Jim Comey and all of his agents!

  • Why are local people so shocked? They overwhelmingly love it when the Feds interfere. Well the Feds are now interfering. Why the “outrage???” This is exactly what the people wanted.

      • Good question Bumba. This seems like so much nothing. Remember when there was the Kukui Gardens scandal or a successful businessman being called the godfather. Now, it’s stealing mail boxes.

        • People may have been “outraged” that Kukui Gardens was sold to California real estate firm, but that doesn’t make it a scandal. The developer, Clarence Ching ultimately fulfilled his agreement with HUD to keep the project affordable until 2011. In the end, a win-win situation was reached that both the tenants and Carmel Partners could live with.

  • If Keith is taken down in this investigation, we do have a few fine individuals with legal backgrounds and experience in public office who actually HAVE INTEGRITY, who could be encouraged to run. Off the top of my head…

    1) Charles Djou

    2) Duke Aiona

    3) Peter Carlisle (MAYBE…not impressed with him)

    Keith Kaneshiro embodies everything that is wrong with our city, and if you can’t stand Kealoha or our crook mayor or scam artists like Kenoi then you must condemn Keith. He’s an arrogant, egomaniacal despot and far too incompetent to lead the prosecutor’s office…even here in Honolulu.

        • Maybe “Sandys” is a concerned citizen and not an ambitious has-been politician whose time in the limelight is a distant wish for fame and fortune.

        • Yotare, “Further” Versus “Farther” The quick and dirty tip is to use “farther” for physical distance and “further” for metaphorical, or figurative, distance. It’s easy to remember because “farther” has the word “far” in it, and “far” obviously relates to physical distance

        • Youtare:
          Here’s another “quick and dirty” for you: words (“further,” “farther,” and “versus,” for example) that appear mid-sentence are generally not capitalized unless they’re proper nouns.

      • Both Djou and Aiona know that their time has passed. They would look foolish to try and run again after monumental losses. “Sandys”…you are REALLY polite when you use the word “lame”.

        • “Lame” is a really general and subjective term. Duke Aiona is both a former deputy prosecutor as well as a Circuit Court judge who founded the drug court program. Before you label him as a “has-been politician” it’s important to recognize he is more than qualified to replace Kaneshiro and couldn’t do worse.

          Aiona and Carlisle should be on your short list. In contrast, Charles Djou has spent very little (if any) time practicing law.

      • Is Duke Aiona not still involved in courts and legal defense initiatives? And is Djou not an Army JAG, making him the equivalent of a federal/military prosecutor?

        I am not well-versed in the technicalities but do believe either man would bring a sense of honesty and integrity that had been sorely lacking under that horrible godfather-wannabe, Kaneshiro.

        • Djou is a reservist, so who knows how much time he actually spends on cases. Certainly, his military position allows him enough time to lecture at UH and HPU, as well as run for and serve in a myriad of political offices — including most recently — mayor of Honolulu.

    • NO. This is about incompetence and self dealing by public officials. Both Kealohas are using their public office to enrich themselves at public expense. They need to go. Kaneshiro is a mystery — what’s in it for him to protect queen katherine? Figure that out and you will have a real story here.

  • The Kaneshiro/ Kealoha connection may reveal some very scary realities. Many still ask the question as to why did Kaneshiro promote the Chief of Police’s
    wife to be the head of the Prosecutors Career Criminal Unit when she had very limited criminal trial experience ? Go figure ? This created opportunities for
    people to become involved in unethical practices and perhaps criminal behavior. The FBI has reached into two of our city and county agencies and perhaps
    will become involved in the rail fiasco It will be interesting to see a Federal Agency ” follow the money ” as Hawaii asks for more.

    • Why are you against spending money to fight crime?

      We need to send a message to everyone that crime of any kind big or small doesn’t pay. It will make this world a better place to live in.

  • The FBI don’t care who you are or what you look like. The best thing is that everyone’s equal and they won’t stop until someone is held accountable. They’ll peal back that onion!

  • At least we get a break from the Bad News Rail. Mayor Caldwell has certainly been very quiet and has kept his distance from Chief Kealoha. Guess the Mayor is going to let Chief Kealoha take the fall. Mayor Caldwell must be thinking about higher office in 2018. Governor Caldwell?

  • There should be NO compensation package offered until the FBI is done. There could be charges coming with that said until all the facts are in Kealoha should not get a thing. Mrs. Kealoha should be put on unpaid leave while the investigation is ongoing. When this story first broke it stunk; whens the last time you heard of someone being investigated for a mailbox theft A MAILBOX. Shame shame shame.

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