Louis Kealoha was given a
$20,000 discount for the installation
of 26 solar panels at his Kahala home in 2013 as a favor to a police officer who worked part time for the solar contractor and because Kealoha
was the police chief, according to
Scott Clough, who owned the solar company, told jurors Wednesday in the ongoing public corruption and conspiracy trial of Kealoha and four other defendants that Lt. Derek Wayne Hahn, who worked evenings and weekends for his company in 2013, asked him to do the Kealoha job “at cost.”
Clough said he agreed to do so because of the chief’s position and the possibility the job could lead to more business.
“It’s the police chief,” Clough said, responding to questions from Colin McDonald, an assistant U.S. attorney. “He’s a very important person.”
Clough said Kealoha paid about $25,000 for a job that normally would cost roughly $45,000, a savings of $20,000.
The disclosure came during the 15th day of the trial for Kealoha; his wife Katherine Kealoha, a former deputy prosecutor; Hahn; and two other officers,
Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen and retired Maj. Gordon
The defendants are charged with conspiring to frame Katherine Kealoha’s uncle, Gerard Puana, for
the alleged theft of the
Kealoha’s mailbox from their Kahala home in June 2013 and then lying about their actions to federal
Katherine Kealoha, Hahn and Shiraishi all rested their cases on Wednesday without taking the stand — the last of the five defendants to do so. The two others, Louis Kealoha and Nguyen, rested their cases earlier in the week, also without taking the stand.
Defendants have a right not to testify, and juries are instructed not to use that against them.
Prosecutors in the conspiracy trial plan to call several rebuttal witnesses this morning, and closing statements are expected to be made Tuesday.
Clough was called to the stand by Hahn’s lawyer,
Birney Bervar, to help buttress his client’s defense. Clough testified that emails he received on June 24, 2013, from Hahn included photos from the Kahala residence of a prospective customer. The emails were labeled “Kahala job.”
Hahn’s job with Clough’s company was to help bring in customers, and he received a 20% commission for each deal he arranged.
Neil Broom, a computer forensics expert called by Bervar, testified that the metadata he extracted
from the emails showed
the iPhone photos were taken from 8:16 to 8:25 a.m.
June 22, 2013, the day after the Kealoha’s mailbox allegedly was stolen.
That testimony was meant to show jurors that Hahn had a reason to be in the area that morning, pursuing a prospective solar deal.
Previous testimony by a government witness with
expertise on cellphone analysis showed that Hahn’s cellphone received calls in the Kahala area the morning after the alleged theft.
When McDonald got his opportunity to question Clough, he asked about
the installation job at the
Kealoha residence — a matter that wasn’t brought up by Bervar.
Noting Hahn’s request for a favor would save the chief $20,000, McDonald asked: “Why would you agree to do that?”
“Why wouldn’t I want to do that,” Clough replied, saying he didn’t lose any money on the deal.
Asked whether Hahn
refrained from requesting
favors for other customers because he made a significant amount of money from his commissions, Clough replied: “You could say that.”
In 2013, Hahn earned $202,000 from his solar job, bringing in more than $1 million in sales, according to Clough.
That was the same year Hahn was appointed as lieutenant in the secretive Criminal Intelligence Unit at the chief’s suggestion, according to the federal indictment in the case.
Upon questioning by
Bervar, Clough said there was a business reason to do the Kealoha job. “This could lead to something else more bigger,” Clough added.
The prosecution asked whether giving Kealoha a big discount was an attempt to curry favor with the chief in hopes of receiving future government or city projects. “That’s not what I said,” Clough answered.
Doing the Kealoha work could lead to a bigger residential job, Clough said he was told by Hahn.
Michelle Bruner, who used to do volunteer work for Professional Electrical Hawaiian Contractors, Clough’s company, said she would set up tables at local banks to hand out business cards to prospective customers, aiming to generate leads for Hahn and the company.
She said she set up an
appointment for him in the Kaimuki area for June 21, 2013.
That was the date the
Kealoha mailbox was removed from its pedestal.
When Broom, the computer forensics expert, was questioned on cross examination he acknowledged that with the type of iPhone used in the Kahala case the time and date recorded when photos are taken can be changed by simply adjusting the phone settings.
And without being able
to analyze the actual phone used to take the Kahala photos, Broom said he could not determine when they were actually taken.
But upon questioning by Bervar, Broom said he didn’t find any evidence of fraud or tampering.
No job resulted from the Hahn emails.
Shiraishi was the final
defendant to present his
defense Wednesday. His attorney, Lars Isaacson, called only one witness, retired
Honolulu Police Department Maj. Gordon Gomes, who spent little time on the stand.
He testified about HPD policy on which officer rankings are required to sign attendance sheets.
The morning session started with Cynthia Kagiwada, Katherine Kealoha’s attorney, saying her client was resting her case.
The afternoon before, Kagiwada told the court Kealoha was still undecided on whether to testify.
The decision to rest meant Kealoha decided not to take the stand.