Monday linked Katherine Kealoha to an imaginary
notary public who wrote a letter of support to state officials for Kealoha to successfully become director of the state Office of Environmental Quality in 2008.
Kealoha, the city’s former deputy prosecutor, also sent emails to the nonexistent notary public named “Alison Lee Wong” in 2011 to make it appear that Kealoha was
actively working to close guardianships for two people while concealing that she and her husband, former
Police Chief Louis Kealoha, misappropriated nearly $150,000 from the people’s trust accounts, prosecutors said previously in their first superseding indictment.
Shari Wong, a deputy state attorney general who oversees all of the state’s notaries public, testified Monday that no notary public named Alison Lee Wong — or various iterations of those names — existed in Hawaii.
Kal Tabbara, president and founder of the Houston-
based American Association of Notaries Inc., then testified about a one-time, online order in May 2008 for a “Hawaii Notary Seal Metal Embosser” to be shipped to “OEQC,” the same initials of the Office of Environmental and Quality Control.
Tabbara testified that he searched his company’s data base and found only one order for an “Alison Lee Wong,” which listed as “director” someone named
c/Katherine Aloha with an address of 235 S. Beretania St. No. 702, which turns out to be the address for the OEQC.
Under “customer profile” was the term “Director K. Aloha.” The seal embosser was listed for $19.95 — but ended up costing $45.90 with shipping, Tabbara said.
With a letter of support from “Alison Lee Wong,” Kealoha was appointed state director of the Office of Environmental and Quality Control, prosecutors said in their indictment. Two years later she returned to the city Prosecutor’s Office.
The Office of Environmental Quality Control facilitates Hawaii’s environmental review process and announces the availability of environmental assessments and environmental impact statements for public review and comment, according to its website.
Monday represented the eighth day of the conspiracy trial of the Kealohas and three former and current police officers: Retired Maj. Gordon Shiraishi, Lt. Derek Wayne Hahn and officer Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen, who on Monday continued to appear in Judge J. Michael Seabright’s court in a dark hoodie.
Nguyen is married to Maile Nguyen, Katherine Kealoha’s niece, and the couple used to live at the Kealohas’ home. Nguyen, an HPD “footman” with no assigned vehicle, was the lowest-ranking member of HPD’s elite, handpicked Criminal Intelligence Unit.
All of the defendants are accused of trying to frame Katherine Kealoha’s uncle, Gerard Puana, for the alleged 2013 theft of the Kealohas’ Kahala mailbox and lying about their actions to federal investigators.
Much of Monday was spent on the direct testimony — and cross-examination — of one of the main FBI agents who in 2014 was assigned to the investigation that led to federal indictments in 2017.
FBI Special Agent Caryn Ackerman, who is also a lawyer, was assigned to the
Honolulu field office in 2011 after graduating from the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va.
The Kealohas’ home video surveillance cameras captured images of a white vehicle believed to be a Lexus at the time of the alleged mailbox theft. Ackerman testified that she helped conduct interviews with more than 400 Hawaii Lexus owners — or people who had access to a Lexus — but no link could be found to the vehicle in the video.
Ackerman relied on handwritten notes and did not record her interviews, especially two that she conducted with Shiraishi. Defense attorneys challenged Ackerman’s accuracy in translating her notes into FBI “Form 302s” that she sometimes wrote days after an interview.
Ackerman is now assigned to the FBI’s field office in Portland, Ore., where she’s from.
Jurors then heard a reading of Nguyen’s sometimes contentious 2016 grand jury testimony, in which he instantly identified “Uncle Gerry” as the person in the video surveillance stealing the Kealohas’ mailbox.
During his grand jury testimony, Nguyen said he had not executed a search warrant in his nine years as a police officer.
But one of his duties with the CIU was to replace the video surveillance hard drive at the Kealohas’ home every two to three days when it became full. The cameras were located on the home’s garage.
Nguyen kept changing how often he actually replaced the hard drive.
“I was irresponsible,” he said in his grand jury testimony.
He would leave the full hard drive on the “tech’s table” at CIU with a Post-It note with the date and no other information, then return home with a fresh hard drive, Nguyen told the grand jury.
Nguyen could not explain how the technicians knew the origins of the hard drive.
Because he knew the code to the Kealohas’ locked gate — and because he was practiced at collecting the video hard drive — Nguyen said he was directed to accompany now-disgraced retired police officer Niall Silva to gather the video evidence of the theft.
After watching the video, Nguyen said in his grand jury testimony that he told Silva that the person taking the mailbox looked like “Uncle Gerry” because of his build, stature and unusual swinging arm motion.
“I’m 5-foot-5 maybe — he’s 5-foot-7, 5-foot-8. … Everyone’s taller than me,” Nguyen told the grand jury.
Silva pleaded guilty in December 2016 to conspiring with other officers in connection with the mailbox case. As part of a plea deal, he admitted to falsifying police reports and lying to federal investigators and in court previously about his involvement in the case.
Testimony is scheduled to resume this morning before Seabright.