Honolulu Police Corruption

| Suggest an Edit

The U.S. Justice Department began investigating corruption and abuse of power within the Honolulu Police Department in December 2014.

In October 2017, former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha, his wife Katherine, a deputy city prosecutor, and five former or current Honolulu police officers were arrested and indicted.

 

Contents

U.S. Justice Department Investigation

The U.S. Justice Department began investigating corruption and abuse of power within the Honolulu Police Department in December 2014.

The FBI stepped in at the urging of a Honolulu criminal defense attorney, Alexander Silvert, who had stumbled across police improprieties as he was defending a client in a federal criminal case.

The client, Gerard Puana, had been accused of stealing a mailbox belonging to then-Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, Katherine, a deputy city prosecutor.

At the time Puana and his then-95-year-old mother, Florence, were suing Katherine Kealoha for allegedly duping them in a reverse mortgage deal and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars that she then spent on lavish gifts for herself and her police chief husband, including a $25,000 breakfast celebration at the Sheraton Waikiki after he was named chief.

Silvert, however, believed that the Kealohas had worked with several HPD officers to frame his client for the mailbox theft so that they could undermine Puana’s credibility in the lawsuit.

The Puana criminal trial ended in mistrial, but Katherine Kealoha later prevailed in a civil case brought by Puana challenging her use of the family money.

A federal grand jury was empaneled and issued indictments in the case just before its two-year term expired in October 2017.

Louis and Katherine Kealoha along with five Honolulu current and former police officers — all members of the secretive Criminal Intelligence Unit — were arrested and charged with crimes related to the conspiracy including falsifying records and obstruction of justice.

Officers Charged

The five police officers charged in October 2017 were:

  • Daniel Sellers, a 20-year veteran of HPD who was a sergeant in the Criminal Intelligence Unit at the time of the mailbox theft.
  • Officer Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen, a “footman” in HPD’s Criminal Intelligence Unit who is accused of lying to federal investigators about his involvement in the mailbox conspiracy and cover-up.
  • Derek Hahn, a lieutenant in HPD with 20 years of experience. Hahn was a high-ranking member of the CIU when the mailbox theft occurred. Federal prosecutors have described him as one of the ringleaders of the alleged conspiracy. He once owned a business, Discount Energy Solutions, with Katherine Kealoha.
  • Former HPD Maj. Gordon Shiraishi who was the captain of the CIU when Gerard Puana was allegedly framed for the mailbox theft. He left the department in April 2017 after he was notified he was a target of the U.S. Justice Department’s corruption investigation.
  • Niall Silva, now a retired HPD officer who worked in CIU during the mailbox theft. Silva admitted to falsifying documents and lying to federal investigators. He also admitted to lying on the witness stand during Gerard Puana’s criminal trial. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy in December 2016, which set into motion Louis Kealoha’s eventual retirement from HPD.

More arrests were considered likely as the Justice Department continued its investigation.

Louis Kealoha’s Severance Payment

Louis Kealoha retired as police chief in 2016 after being formally notified by the Justice Department he was a suspect in the investigation. He was given a controversial $250,000 severance payment in addition to his retirement of about $150,000 a year. He was required to repay the severance if he was convicted of a felony within six years.

Katherine Kealoha continued to work as a deputy prosecutor during much of the investigation including playing high-profile roles in some cases. She was put on unpaid leave when she was arrested.

 
Will The HPD Scandal Jump-Start Police Reform In The Legislature? Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Will The HPD Scandal Jump-Start Police Reform In The Legislature?

So far, lawmakers have failed to establish a standards and training board and lift the secrecy in police misconduct cases.

Another Guilty Plea In Federal Police Corruption Investigation Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

Another Guilty Plea In Federal Police Corruption Investigation

UPDATED: Prosecutors say Ransen Taito was a victim of Katherine Kealoha’s financial crimes, but he helped her cover them up anyway.

Woman Sues Hawaii For Hiring Ex-Cop Who Then Assaulted Her Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

Woman Sues Hawaii For Hiring Ex-Cop Who Then Assaulted Her

The Department of Land and Natural Resources ignored HPD’s warnings not to hire Ethan Ferguson.

Suits Against Honolulu Cops Cite ‘Culture Of Silence’ At HPD Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Suits Against Honolulu Cops Cite ‘Culture Of Silence’ At HPD

An attorney says the incidents that injured his clients could have been prevented if officers had been disciplined in the past.

New Police Chief Reassigns Union President To Patrol Shift Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

New Police Chief Reassigns Union President To Patrol Shift

Susan Ballard says she had concerns with how the department’s Peer Support Unit was led by SHOPO chief Tenari Maafala.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell Builds A New-Look Police Commission Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell Builds A New-Look Police Commission

His nomination of Shannon Alivado, if confirmed, would mean all seven commissioners would be his appointees.

Hawaii AG Won’t File Charges In Toddler Abuse Case

Hawaii AG Won’t File Charges In Toddler Abuse Case

UPDATED: Peyton Valiente almost died from injuries suffered at a day care, and the Honolulu Police Department acknowledged botching the investigation.

Councilman Wants A Piece Of The Action In Picking Police Commissioners Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Councilman Wants A Piece Of The Action In Picking Police Commissioners

Ikaika Anderson seeks to change the selection process for the Honolulu police and fire commissions, whose members are now mayoral appointees.

Did Honolulu Police Go Too Far In The Case Of This Man’s Death? Submitted

Did Honolulu Police Go Too Far In The Case Of This Man’s Death?

Sheldon Haleck died after a struggle with police in 2015. He was on meth. He refused to get out of the road. Police say they took appropriate actions.

New Kealoha Defense Tactic: Going After ‘Mainland Prosecutors’ Nick Grube/Civil Beat

New Kealoha Defense Tactic: Going After ‘Mainland Prosecutors’

A federal judge pushed back the trial date until June due to the complexity of the case and sheer volume of the evidence.

Ex-Cop Sentenced For Helping Prostitute In Exchange For Sex Department of Public Safety

Ex-Cop Sentenced For Helping Prostitute In Exchange For Sex

Judge cites “abuse of your position of power” in sentencing Maulia LaBarre to six months behind bars.

Caldwell Nominates Former TV Executive For Police Commission City and County of Honolulu

Caldwell Nominates Former TV Executive For Police Commission

Dick Grimm, who worked at three local stations, would be the mayor’s sixth appointment to the seven-member board.