A federal judge today accepted the guilty plea of a Honolulu police officer who has agreed to cooperate with investigators on a wide-ranging public corruption investigation that already has resulted in the indictment of former police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, a former Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha.
The plea deal that U.S. District Judge Michael Seabright accepted means Daniel Sellers, who is on leave from his Honolulu Police Department job, faces up to a year in prison and a maximum $100,000 fine when he is sentenced on April 29 for disclosing confidential material, a misdemeanor.
Sellers, 40, pleaded guilty in exchange for prosecutors dropping two felony charges alleging that he unlawfully entered and searched the home of Katherine Kealoha’s uncle, lied about it to a grand jury, and lied to the FBI.
The Kealohas, Sellers and three other former officers of an elite criminal intelligence unit were charged by federal authorities in 2017 with scheming to frame the uncle for stealing the Kealoha’s mailbox.
The initial investigation of that relatively minor federal crime has over the past several years transformed into a major public corruption investigation. Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro recently received a letter from federal authorities saying he was a target of the investigation, and two of his deputies were informed they were subjects of interest.
As an HPD officer, Sellers, who has more than 20 years with the department, was assigned to investigate the alleged mailbox theft.
He told Seabright that he disclosed confidential information obtained from a federal database in 2013 to Katherine Kealoha, not in her capacity as a deputy prosecutor but as an alleged crime victim, even though he knew doing so violated federal and HPD policy and regulations. Sellers and Kealoha had been friends since high school.
Sellers said he wanted to “own up to what I’ve done wrong” and take responsibility for that.
Federal prosecutor Michael Wheat, who is overseeing the case, told Seabright that Sellers already has begun cooperating with authorities.