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.

 
How ‘Blind Faith’ Led To Hawaii’s Biggest Police Corruption Scandal Cory Lum/Civil Beat

How ‘Blind Faith’ Led To Hawaii’s Biggest Police Corruption Scandal

Federal public defenders quickly unraveled a case about the alleged theft of a mailbox. How did  U.S. attorneys miss the clues?

Kealohas, Accused Cops Plead Not Guilty To Newest Charges Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Kealohas, Accused Cops Plead Not Guilty To Newest Charges

Federal prosecutors added three new charges in the corruption case involving the former police chief and his deputy prosecutor wife.

New Charges Issued In Kealohas’ Corruption Case Cory Lum/Civil Beat

New Charges Issued In Kealohas’ Corruption Case

The updated indictment adds a former Honolulu police captain to the alleged general criminal conspiracy.

Court Documents: The Kealohas Agree To Sell Their Home Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Court Documents: The Kealohas Agree To Sell Their Home

The embattled ex-police chief and his prosecutor wife were under pressure from a credit union and their former lawyer to pay debts.

Lienholder On Ex-Police Chief’s Home Wants It Sold Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Lienholder On Ex-Police Chief’s Home Wants It Sold

Attorney Kevin Sumida wants to recoup money he says he’s owed by Louis and Katherine Kealoha.

Ex-Honolulu Police Chief Aims To Fight Charges In 2 Trials Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Ex-Honolulu Police Chief Aims To Fight Charges In 2 Trials

Louis Kealoha wants one trial for allegations of framing a relative for a mailbox theft and another for bank fraud.

Lawsuit: Ex-Honolulu Police Chief, Wife Default On $1M Mortgage Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Lawsuit: Ex-Honolulu Police Chief, Wife Default On $1M Mortgage

Hawaii Central Federal Credit Union claims Louis and Katherine Kealoha have stopped making house payments.

Lawsuit: Ex-Honolulu Police Chief, Wife Default On $1M Mortgage Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Lawsuit: Ex-Honolulu Police Chief, Wife Default On $1M Mortgage

Hawaii Central Federal Credit Union claims Louis and Katherine Kealoha have stopped making house payments.

HPD Lieutenant Seeks Separate Trials In Police Corruption Case Cory Lum/Civil Beat

HPD Lieutenant Seeks Separate Trials In Police Corruption Case

An attorney for Derek Hahn says two schemes are alleged, and allegations against officers only involve one of them.

Ex-HPD Major Wants Separate Trial In Corruption Case Honolulu Police Department

Ex-HPD Major Wants Separate Trial In Corruption Case

An attorney for Gordon Shiraishi says he shouldn’t be lumped in with the other defendants in the Kealoha case.

Honolulu Police Commission Gets New Leadership Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Honolulu Police Commission Gets New Leadership

Loretta Sheehan was a sharp critic of former chief Louis Kealoha and how the commission handled problems during his tenure.

How Honolulu’s New Police Chief Is Shaking Up A Troubled Department Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

How Honolulu’s New Police Chief Is Shaking Up A Troubled Department

In her first four months, Chief Susan Ballard is disrupting old policies and practices with a new vision.