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Reaction pours in after Kealoha guilty verdicts

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Video by Diane S .W. Lee
Former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and former deputy city prosecutor Katherine Kealoha were found guilty of conspiracy and obstruction of justice by a jury in federal court on Thursday.
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Katherine and Louis Kealoha walked toward Queen Street after being found guilty of conspiracy and obstruction in federal court Thursday.

Here are immediate reactions to the Kealoha public corruption case verdict today:

>> Florence Puana, Gerard Puana and the Puana ohana:

“We find no joy or comfort in the outcome of the ‘Mailbox Trial.’ Our families losses have been tremendous. Florence’ home will never be restored to her. The years of humiliation, heartache, tears and sorrow inflicted on Florence, Gerard and our family won’t be assuaged or erased. Some family relationships have been completely, perhaps forever severed, while others still remain tenuous. Yet through it all, our ohana has survived strong and united. We will eventually recover as we continue to look after each other. We’ll keep the faith with our sights on the future leave the past in the past while hoping and praying for happier tomorrows

“Our family is extremely indebted and extend a sincere mahalo nui loa to the U. S. Department of Justice, their attorneys and investigators; the entire Federal Public Defender’s Office and our family attorneys for their confidence, tenacity and relentless pursuit of justice. We thank all our extended family, friends, clergy, doctors, nurses and medical personnel who have prayed for us, provided care, kindness, counsel and guidance over the past 7 years. We salute those members of the news media who diligently, objectively and fearlessly reported the facts and stood firm in the truth. We are most grateful as well to all the jurors who took time from their busy lives to serve on this jury; to listen intently to the evidence presented in this difficult and complicated case and commit themselves to upholding the truth and veracity of the law.

“May God bless each and every one of you.”

>> Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell:

“The jury has reached a verdict and I respect the process and their decision. It’s time to move on.”

>> Honolulu Police Commission Chairwoman Loretta Sheehan:

“I’m satisfied with the results primarily because tonight the system worked. Regardless of how you feel about the verdict, the system worked. In 2013, federal Public Defender Ali Silvert believed that he had uncovered corruption at the Honolulu Police Department. To his credit, he went to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. To their credit, they referred the matter to the FBI. The FBI investigated, the Grand Jury investigated and returned an indictment. The jury heard the evidence and made a decision. Their decision was swift and definite. The jury has spoken and the integrity of the criminal justice system has been preserved.

“That’s what’s really important here. Not whether people were convicted or found not guilty, but that our system of criminal justice operated the way it was supposed to. I feel that very deeply as a former prosecutor, and now as a lawyer who engages in civil litigation as the chair of the Police Commission. We have to be able to trust our government, we have to be able to trust our justice systems. This verdict goes a long way to restoring my trust in those systems.

“In regard to HPD, my sense is that they want to put this behind them, that they are tired of the shadow of Kealoha that has hung over their department. I can understand them wanting to move past this. But respectfully, I disagree. We should be talking about what happened with Chief Kealoha, and what happened in the CIU, and what happened with this small band of individuals for a long, long time. This is not something we should try to move away from quickly. We should be talking about it, examining it, and figuring out ways to make sure that this never happens again.

“Part of that job has to be done by the Honolulu Police Commission. I hope the rest of my commissioners feel the same way because this can never happen again. This can never happen again.

“I think we have to work hard to ask difficult questions, to ask uncomfortable questions. We have to feel free to offer constructive criticism. We have to be free to point out when we think there’s a better way of doing things. There has to be give and take between the Police Department and the Police Commission. And there has to be transparency. As the Washington Post says, ‘democracy dies in darkness.’ And they’re right. And so that’s what we have to do. We have to shine the light on what’s happening at the Police Department. Because the police officers, all the way up to the police chief, are public servants. We all serve the public. And so the public has a right to know — not everything — but they have a right to know what’s going on in their Police Department.”

>> Honolulu Police Department Chief Susan Ballard:

“The damage caused by this small group of individuals hurt both the community and the department. But the men and women of the HPD have been working hard this past year and a half to restore HPD’s reputation and the public’s trust. We are moving forward and are committed to making sure that Honolulu continues to be one of the safest cities in the nation.”

>> Honolulu City Council Chairman Ikaika Anderson:

“The Kealohas were found guilty in a court of law, and will rightly face justice. Mr. Kealoha should now promptly return his $250K cash severance settlement to City taxpayers. There are no winners in this situation; the people of this City and the families of all involved have suffered considerably.”

>> U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer for the Southern District of California:

“The Kealohas’ extraordinary greed inspired astonishing corruption. The audacity of this couple to use the power vested in them as law enforcement officials to fund a lavish lifestyle and satisfy their personal vendettas was unconscionable. These two were supposed to be the good guys. They were supposed to enforce the law — not break it. Instead, they broke the community’s faith in a monumental way. This city has been harmed by their deception and greed, but the jury has spoken, and it has loudly said NO to corruption. NO to abuse of power. NO to special treatment. NO to injustice.

“As we’ve often seen, the cover up was worse than the original crime. The most troubling aspect of this case was the way these powerful defendants manipulated the justice system for their own purposes.”

>> Rafael A. Riviere, FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge in Honolulu:

“Unfortunately there are no winners in this case. The betrayal of trust by the former prosecutor and former Chief of Police will linger for some time. However, justice has been served and the jury, through this verdict, has said that no one is above the law and this behavior will not be tolerated in the State of Hawaii. The FBI would like to thank the United States Attorney Office (USAO) Hawaii, USAO for the Southern District of California, as well as the men and woman of the jury for their swift and decisive verdict.”

>> Former Circuit Judge Randy Lee , who also served as a deputy prosecutor for 25 years:

“I’m glad the verdict came down the way it did, given the level of corruption that was being reported in the media. … It vindicates the people that they hurt and, in addition to that, it kind of restores some faith in the criminal justice system. There was this taint on the Police Department, the prosecutor’s office and the legal system. That’s not the way law enforcement works. So the verdict was not only a vindication of the people that they hurt, but also to the system of justice. So I’m glad that the verdict came down. Obviously the jury considered all the evidence and reached the decision that they did. I’m also glad that the federal government took the lead and pursued this. It wasn’t going to be swept under the carpet. So from a public perspective, it kind of restores some faith in the justice system.”

>> Follow all our coverage of the Kealohas here.

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