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Carlisle: Fed's Case Against the Kealohas Solid

Wayne Yoshioka

Honolulu’s former police chief and his city deputy prosecutor wife pleaded not guilty to federal charges Friday. But, as HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports, one prominent attorney says the case appears to be solid.

“The federal authorities are notorious for doing extremely thorough work and taking cases that have a very high level of impact in the community and to make sure that there’s going to be a conviction.”

Peter Carlisle, former Honolulu mayor and city prosecutor, says he believes the 20-count federal indictment against former Police Chief Louis Kealoha and City Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha is thorough and complete.

“I have not read the indictment from start to finish.  I don’t know what their evidence is but I know that these people have an absolute stellar reputation for putting together air tight cases.  You know, the federal  government and U.S. Attorney’s office, they’re not gonna take something take something that’s an “iffy” case or questionable case.  They’re gonna make sure their case is rock solid.”

Carlisle says the federal government completed its nearly 3-year investigation and produced a 42-page indictment that is somewhat discomforting.

“The whole question about what is going on now in the Kealoha situation is one:  leadership and two: integrity.  There are things that are criminal now that are popping up but the purpose of having  police officers is so that they will protect and serve and they’re not going to sit there and have this kind of Black Ops type of thing going on behind everybody’s back and no one knows anything anything about it.”

That was a reference to HPD’s secretive Criminal Intelligence Unit which reports directly to the chief of police.  Other allegations of fraud and misappropriation of money for personal expenses are directed at Katherine Kealoha, currently on leave without pay and licensed attorney.

“I think right now, it’s abundantly clear that Kathy Kealoha has got a lot to answer for and is facing serious consequences for what she did.  But is this something they would pull her license for in a heartbeat?  I think she’s not going to have a law license from this point on in her life but it’s absolutely true that this would be disgraceful behavior worthy of disbarment.”

But all the alleged charges of corruption, abuse of power, fraud and making false statements being leveled against the Kealohas is perplexing, Carlisle says, when a much easier path was available.

“Greed and avarice really seem to have no boundaries.  I mean, why with all the status that you have, all the power that you have, why not just do the job with the utmost integrity?  I mean that’s not a hard thing to figure out.”

So, on to the federal trial in U.S. District Court, which could be a either an extremely slow process or accelerate.

“You’re talking about a potential of a trial and those types of things and the voir dire and all of that.  That can go at a glacial pace but not necessarily if some people start talking about what they did and accepting their responsibility and then giving evidence against the other culprits who were involved.

For HPR News, I’m Wayne Yoshioka.

Wayne Yoshioka
Wayne Yoshioka is an award-winning journalist who has worked in television, print and radio in Hawaiʻi. He also has been on both sides of politics as a state departmental appointee and political/government reporter. He covered Hurricane Iwa (1982) as a TV reporter; was the State Department of Defense/Civil Defense spokesperson for Hurricane Iniki (1992); and, commanded a public affairs detachment in Afghanistan (2006). He has a master's degree in Communication from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and is a decorated combat veteran (Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and 22 other commendation/service medals). He resides in Honolulu.
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