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Kealoha to get $250,000 to retire as HPD chief

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / 2014

    Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha answered questions at a hearing on domestic violence in Hawaii.

  • GORDON PANG / GORDONPANG@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Members of the Honolulu Police Commission approved a settlement package today for Police Chief Louis Kealoha, who is retiring in the wake of an ongoing federal investigation into alleged wrongdoing by him. The commission members seen in this photo taken today are, from left, Loretta Sheehan, Marc Tilker, corporation counsel (unidentified), chairman Max Sword, vice chairwoman Cha Thompson, Luella Costales, and Steven Levinson.

The Honolulu Police Commission today agreed to allow Police Chief Louis Kealoha to leave his job with a settlement package worth $250,000, ending a rocky seven-year term and marking a new chapter for a Honolulu Police Department that has been engulfed in scandal.

The effective date of the retirement is March 1. Kealoha must return the $250,000 if he is convicted of a felony. In exchange for the payout, the city is released from claims by the chief arising from the terms and conditions of his job.

In addition to the settlement, Kealoha will receive the standard pension and post-employment health insurance and other benefits that come with having served on the force for 33 years.

As chief, Kealoha’s salary is $182,088 annually.

Commission Chairman Max Sword told reporters after today’s four-hour meeting that besides hiring and firing the chief, the seven-member panel has a duty to do what’s best for the people and community of the city.

“The department has been under a dark cloud for the last two years with all this federal investigation and we believe that the police department needs to move on to get out from under that cloud,” Sword said. “We also are responsible in my view, and the commission’s view, that the morale and welfare of the police department is incumbent on what we do because it affects how they act or how they cover or support the community.”

The commission voted 5-1 to approve the agreement. Commission member Loretta Sheehan said she was the lone dissenting vote “because I believe it’s expensive, unnecessary and very likely undeserved.” Sheehan said that the commission should have conducted a for-cause hearing “to examine the issues that have been raised regarding his leadership and management abilities.” The commission could have then made a decision on whether to remove Kealoha, she said.

Commission member Eddie Flores did not attend today’s meeting.

Kealoha’s departure comes just as a federal investigation into alleged wrongdoing by the chief, his wife, and others are beginning to come into focus.

A grand jury is looking into the allegations of civil rights abuses and corruption over allegations that Kealoha and his wife, Katherine Kealoha (a deputy city prosecutor), framed her uncle for the theft of the Kealoha’s home mailbox in a dispute over family finances.

A retired officer involved in the mailbox case pleaded guilty to conspiracy and four other officers have received target letters from the FBI. FBI agents on Friday raided the Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office.

Kealoha announced on Dec. 20 that he had put himself on “restriction of police authority” (ROPA) status, essentially paid leave, after the FBI sent him a letter informing him that he is the target of a criminal investigation. Kealoha had said for months that he would not step down because he had done nothing wrong.

Sword announced on Jan. 6 that the seven-member panel and the chief had reached a tentative agreement for him to retire, but that additional details had yet to be hashed out.

Kealoha was a captain when he first became chief in 2009. He was given a second, five-year term in 2014 that was to have run through Nov. 27, 2019.

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    • Agree, was expecting that they would give the chief a buy out without any conditions. At least this one is conditional. Should have been, if convicted give back the $250K and a police version of a dishonorable discharge with no pension. Looks like Ms Sheehan is the only one of that sad group of commissioners with integrity, courage, and conviction. Next, City Council please submit legislation to have greater oversight of our dysfunctional police commission.

  • People of Hawaii hope that this crooked ex-Police Chief gets convicted along with his corrupt Prosecuting attorney wife. People in power deserve twice the time in prison. Taking their positions for granted for personal use shall in no way be rewarded. Karma is creeping up on these two creeps!

  • Told you all this morning, you want him out you pay a buyout. Otherwise wait till his conviction (good luck). Commission don’t want to be sued. Just chill out.

  • I don’t agree with the payout, but at least he will be forced to pay it back if he’s convicted of a felony. Too bad they couldn’t take away his pension if he is convicted of a felony.

    • They could have, if they had any common sense. I fired a guy years ago for theft. He had a day short of thirty years, was a union member and lost all retirement benefits. He may have gotten something from the union, but don’t know.

  • Who’s the legal counsel on this? Is the commission acting on their own with no legal advice? If the mayor and council members can’t get information from the commission, it seems the commission is acting on their own. Kealoaha’s lawyer must be relishing the “no can lose” decision for his client. What happened to the leave with pay till convicted and lose retirement benefits also if convicted.

  • Getting paid to commit a crime, be charged, then be exonerated? This douche will blow through the 250K before his appeal ever comes to pass. His pension/retirement should have been attached, as well. It does pay to be a crook….

  • I had a feeling that the city would buyout Kealoha’s contract just to be done with him so they could avoid a long civil litigation…at least the commission got a pay back clause in case of a felony conviction, Kealoha would have to pay it back….

    • Realistically, this is the best we can do. If he is a felon, it may be hard to get that 250K back. but, its time to move on! This system stinks! Just fir his butt for compromising his position!

      • You’re probably right in that’s the best situation that city is going get in order to get rid of him…..at least now a search can begin for a new chief….

  • $250K should help pay for a decent lawyer to help avoid the felony conviction. Or if not, it’ll still be “all gone” when they try to get it back! Hmmm…will still have to pay taxes on it at least? How long would it take to pay back with withheld pension payments?

  • I can think of a felony that someone claiming to be the police chief is guilty of. Not sure what the statute of limitations is for the crime but I know ppl what him for it. HPD clear skies? There are serious crimes being carried out by that police department and 911 is on the take. If you see a pig kidnapping someone saying she’s a prostitue or has a warrant step in. I can’t wait till these bastards are locked up. Just think about rape kits!! You have a bunch of rapists protectkng a bunch of rapists. We’re talking a badjet full maybe more. Clear skies….

  • He has to return the 250,000 if he is convicted of a felon. He should return the 250,000 if he is convicted of any wrong doing. This police commission sucks except for Sheehan.

    • No Aloha Kealoha has to return the $250,000 only if he is convicted prior to his retirement/buyout which is not going to happen as he has not yet been indicted
      or been either convicted in a court of law. That if it should happen would be months down the road if ever so he is going to get to keep the buyout.
      By the way, a conviction legally does not occur until you are actually sentenced.

  • Here’s another “retirement” issue that I heard about regarding an HPD officer…..back in 2005 10 year veteran Harold Cabbab Jr was sentenced to 14 years in a federal pen for stealing what he thought was drugs from a storage locker that was really a Federal undercover sting operation. I heard he was able to retire and benefits were being paid to his wife while he was incarcerated!!!!! How ’bout that???

  • Loretta shehan at one time was a deputy prosecutor and I assume an attorney. She is not a judge and should Know that Chief Kealoha has not been found guilty for committing a crime. The allegations of corruption have not been proven. Chief Kealoha has gotten excellent reviews from the police commission and the City and County of Honolulu is one of the safest cities because of Chief Kealoha. Sheehan maybe you should step down and resign from the commission because you are a poor example of an attorney. Mayor Caldwell, what were you thinking when you appointed this witch hunter to the police commission?

    • The chief doesn’t have to been found guilty of criminal charge to be remove from his position….the commission should have done an administrative review to determine whether or not Kealoha may have violated any ethic laws,administrative rules or HPD Standards of Conduct which would have been cause to terminate his employment ….the standard for determining whether or not he is guilty is preponderance of evidence which is high probability in an administrative hearing as compared to beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal case……

  • Sheehan the only worthwhile member, the rest are girly men or Dem. Where are the leaders when we need them most? There is any at the state or county level, donald quack or iggy pop couldn’t lead a latrine detail in a competent manner. Auwe!

  • He may be innocent or guilty, we may never know. Only he knows, for his sake, I would hope if he is guilty he would come out with the truth because even though he may be a rich man, the conscience has a way to prevent happiness if there is a crime unconfessed

  • Only in Hawaii!!! Talk about nepotism! The commissioner and the police chief are friends – this is a big NO NO. The money could have been put in an escrow account until the whole debacle is over.

  • “Kealoha must return the $250,000 if he is convicted of a felony.” Yeah right! As usual only words and cross your finger that they will comply. What are the consequences for not paying it back? And if there are consequences that were stipulated, which I doubt, the commission won’t do anything like going to court for fear of losing and end up costing more. That’ why they made the payout in the first place. Always taking the easy way out. So nothing will be done, except for making a settlement to let him keep some or all of the money. How much has Michael kahapea paid back so far over all these years? What a joke!

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