Opening statements in one of Hawaii’s largest public corruption trials began today with federal prosecutors accusing former city deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, her husband and former Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha, and three current and former Honolulu police officers of a complicated conspiracy to discredit her uncle.
The prosecutors’ opening statement followed the final selection of the 12-member jury — five women and seven men, plus five alternates — who were chosen from a pool of more than 400 prospective jurors.
Much of what special prosecutor Michael Wheat told the jurors today the government was already revealed in pretrial documents and hearings: alleging that the Kealohas and the officers staged the theft of a mailbox and framed Katherine Kealoha’s uncle Gerard Puana, who was suing her in state court.
So if the jury is to believe that the person captured on surveillance video taking the mailbox is not Gerard Puana, Katherine Kealoha’s uncle, then who is it? Wheat did not provide the jurors an answer to that question. And in pretrial document filings, the government has not indicated who it believes is in the video.
Wheat said the case also involves those close to the couple — members of a “secret police” unit hand-picked by the chief.
After Wheat’s presentation, U.S. District Chief Judge J. Michael Seabright sent the jurors off to lunch. When they return, they will hear the opening statements from the lawyers of the Kealohas, and co-defendants Lt. Derek Wayne Hahn, officer Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen, and retired Maj. Gordon Shiraishi.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.