Honolulu Police Corruption

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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.

 

November 2017

Thursday, November 16

Caldwell Nominates Former TV Executive For Police Commission

Wednesday, November 15

New HPD Chief Shares Her Goals For A Department In Turmoil

Tuesday, November 14

Kealohas Get New Defense Attorneys In Federal Conspiracy Case

Thursday, November 9

Judge: Kealohas Are Too Broke To Pay For Their Own Defense

Wednesday, November 8

Judge To Kealohas: Show Me Your Finances

Neal Milner: This ‘Power Couple’ Is Not So Cool

The Case Against Katherine Kealoha Just Keeps Getting Worse

Tuesday, November 7

Kealoha Attorneys Want Out Of Corruption Case

Monday, November 6

Criminal Case Against Kealohas Puts Brakes On Uncle’s Suit

Friday, November 3

Officer Charged In Corruption Case Challenges Police Commission

Explosive Motion Calls For Ouster Of Kealoha Attorneys

What’s At The Center Of The Case Against The Kealohas? Bank Fraud

Thursday, November 2

Ian Lind: It Turns Out We Owe Chuck Totto A Big Thank-You

Wednesday, November 1

Judge Dismisses Suit Challenging Secret Meetings About Police Chief

Three Officers Plead Not Guilty In Honolulu Police Corruption Case

Some Of Our Best Reporting On Honolulu Police Misconduct

October 2017

Tuesday, October 31

A Look At The Business Execs Up For Seats On Honolulu Police Commission

Monday, October 30

Susan Ballard To Be Sworn In Wednesday As Honolulu Police Chief

Friday, October 27

Former HPD Police Chief Gets New Criminal Defense Attorney

Lawyers Want Review Of Cases Handled By Indicted Officials

Jim Dooley: Secrecy, Unwavering Loyalty A Recipe For Police Corruption

Here’s Our Advice For Our New Police Chief

HPD Corruption Case: Who Is Alison Lee Wong?

Wednesday, October 25

Susan Ballard Picked As New Honolulu Police Chief

Covert Honolulu Police Unit Has Long History Of Troubles

Tuesday, October 24

High Court Rejects Media Complaint About Police Commission Secrecy

The Children’s Trust Fund At The Heart Of The Kealoha Indictment

Monday, October 23

Interviews For Next Honolulu Police Chief Begin Amid Growing Scandal

Let’s Scrap The Police Chief Search And Start Over

How Far Will The Honolulu Police Corruption Investigation Spread?

Friday, October 20

A Guide To The Case Against The Kealohas

Former Honolulu Police Chief And Prosecutor Wife Arrested

Wednesday, October 18

FBI Reveals New Details About The Alleged Honolulu Police Conspiracy

Third HPD Officer Arrested As Part Of Corruption Investigation

Tuesday, October 17

Questions Surface Over Integrity Of HPD Chief Candidate

Monday, October 16

Two Honolulu Cops Face Felony Charges In Corruption Case

Sunday, October 15

FBI Arrests Two Allegedly Tied To Honolulu Police Corruption Probe

September 2017

Thursday, September 28

Honolulu Police Commission Picks Seven Finalists For Chief

Wednesday, September 27

Outspoken Honolulu Police Commissioners Just Got More Power

Wednesday, September 20

Kealoha’s Quest For City To Pay His Legal Fees Takes A Nasty Turn

Monday, September 11

News Outlets Challenge Honolulu Police Commission Secrecy

How A Police Officer’s Complaints About HPD Corruption Went Viral

Thursday, September 7

Honolulu’s Search For A New Police Chief Down To 9 Candidates

August 2017

Wednesday, August 30

Grand Jury Probe Zeroes In On ‘Safe House’ Property Deal

July 2017

Wednesday, July 26

Judge Blasts Honolulu Prosecutors Over Handling Of Theft Case

Thursday, July 20

Police Commissioners Clash Over ‘Unconstitutional’ Secret Hearings

Wednesday, July 19

Two Police Commissioners Say Secret Hearings For Cops Are Improper

Thursday, July 6

Why Taxpayers Might Have To Pay For Ex-Honolulu Police Chief’s Attorney

Wednesday, July 5

Honolulu Police Commission: Where’s Our Consultant?

June 2017

Friday, June 30

Judge Orders Release Of City Prosecutor’s Employment Records

Monday, June 26

Kealohas Tried to Discredit Police Commissioner In Corruption Probe

Thursday, June 22

Ex-Honolulu Police Chief’s Fight For Legal Fees Turns Nasty

Wednesday, June 21

Another Delay In Nationwide Search For Honolulu Police Chief

Tuesday, June 6

Katherine Kealoha Sues City To Keep Her Employment Records Secret

May 2017

Wednesday, May 17

Hubbub Over Reality TV Star Sinks HPD Chief Selection Panel

Tuesday, May 16

ACLU: 10 Questions For The Next Honolulu Police Chief

Wednesday, May 10

It Looks Like Political Insiders Will Help Pick The Next Honolulu Police Chief

Wednesday, May 3

Kealoha Threatens Police Commissioner With Ethics Complaint

Dog The Bounty Hunter’s Wife Might Help Select HPD’s Next Chief

April 2017

Thursday, April 27

Lawmakers Advance A Bill Allowing A Mainlander To Be Police Chief

Monday, April 24

Honolulu Prosecutor Could Be A Witness For The Defense

Thursday, April 13

Kauai Police Chief Says He’s Applied For Honolulu Chief Job

Monday, April 10

Should Honolulu’s New Police Chief Be An Insider Or An Outsider?

Wednesday, April 5

Honolulu Police Chief Job Attracts At Least 30 Applicants

Monday, April 3

Honolulu Police Chief Applications Are Rolling In

HPD Major Retires Amid Justice Department Corruption Probe

March 2017

Tuesday, March 28

Hawaii Lawmakers Are Still Chilly To Police Reform

Thursday, March 23

Did Honolulu Cops Issue Fake Tickets Or Did The Honolulu Prosecutor Make Up The Story?

Monday, March 6

Does The Justice Department Really Have A Case Against The Kealohas?

February 2017

Thursday, February 23

To Be A Honolulu Police Commissioner, First Be A Political Insider

Wednesday, February 8

‘Rare’ Request Seeks To Hide Criminal Case From Honolulu Prosecutor

Friday, February 3

HPD Chief Got His $250K Payout But No One Will Say Who Gave It To Him

Wednesday, February 1

HPD: We Don’t Have $250,000 To Give The Chief

January 2017

Thursday, January 26

Lawsuit: Police Commission Broke The Law With Secret Meetings

Can One Attorney Sue The Chief And Defend Him At The Same Time?

Wednesday, January 25

Will Police Reform Finally Gain Traction In The 2017 Legislature?

Tuesday, January 24

Acting HPD Chief Concerned About $250K Payment To Kealoha

Monday, January 23

Police Commission Clarifies HPD Chief’s $250K Deal

Friday, January 20

Why One Police Commissioner Wanted To Fire The Chief

Wednesday, January 18

Honolulu Police Chief Gets $250,000 In Retirement Deal

Senator: ‘Silent’ Police Commission Should Stay Quiet A Bit Longer

Friday, January 13

Honolulu Police Commission To City Council: Stay Out Of It

Tuesday, January 10

City Council Members ‘Leery’ Of HPD Chief’s Retirement Deal

Monday, January 9

HPD Chief Could Get A Lucrative Cash Payout Along With Pension

Is HPD Chief’s Departure Just The Beginning Of An ‘Ugly’ Mess?

Friday, January 6

Embattled Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha To Retire

Wednesday, January 4

Police Commission Remains Mum About HPD Chief Situation

Police Commission: HPD Chief’s Future Will Be Discussed In Secret

Tuesday, January 3

City Prosecutor Under Corruption Probe Will Run Criminal Intel Unit

The Plot Thickens In The Honolulu Police Chief Conspiracy Case

December 2016

Thursday, December 22

Was Acting HPD Chief In On The Theft Conspiracy?

Tuesday, December 20

Honolulu Police Chief Placed On Leave During Corruption Probe

Monday, December 19

Feds Say Honolulu Police Chief Is A Suspect In Corruption Case

Friday, December 16

Ex-Cop Pleads Guilty In Mailbox Conspiracy Involving Police Chief

Wednesday, December 14

New Lawsuit Filed Against Police Chief, His Wife And Other Officers

November 2016

Wednesday, November 23

Why Keith Kaneshiro Is Standing Behind Katherine Kealoha

Friday, November 4

A Rare Gift: HPD Chief Donates $500 To Prosecutor’s Campaign

October 2016

Thursday, October 20

Voters Asked To Strengthen Honolulu Police Commission

September 2016

Monday, September 26

Why Is Ron Taketa Still On The Honolulu Police Commission?

Wednesday, September 14

Feds Zeroing In On Targets In Police Chief Probe

Wednesday, September 7

New Police Commissioner Takes on Honolulu Police Chief

Tuesday, September 6

HPD Chief Kealoha Lawsuit Could Cost City $300K

August 2016

Tuesday, August 16

Attorney: Police Commission ‘Ill Equipped’ To Investigate Chief

Kealohas’ ‘Bizarre’ Legal Strategy: Filing Lawsuits And Going Public

Wednesday, August 3

Caldwell’s Inaction On Police Reform Draws Political Attacks

July 2016

Wednesday, July 13

A Peek Inside The Corruption Probe Of Honolulu’s Police Chief

June 2016

Monday, June 13

How Caldwell Has Undermined The Honolulu Ethics Commission

Friday, June 3

Caldwell Nominates ‘Breath Of Fresh Air’ For Honolulu Police Commission

May 2016

Tuesday, May 31

Why Is It So Hard To Pass Police Reform In Hawaii?

April 2016

Thursday, April 28

Under Investigation: Kealohas Speak Out, Suggest They’re Political Targets

Monday, April 11

‘A Bum Job:’ Trust In Honolulu’s Police Commission Crumbles

March 2016

Wednesday, March 23

Charter Change: How Easy Should It Be To Fire A Police Chief?

October 2015

Wednesday, October 28

Calls Grow For Reforms To Boost Police Accountability

Wednesday, October 21

Honolulu Police Commission ‘Knows Nothing’ About HPD Chief Probe

Thursday, October 15

Who’s the Special Prosecutor Investigating the Honolulu Police Chief?

Friday, October 9

Honolulu Police Chief Sues Ethics Commission to Stop Probe

May 2015

Friday, May 8

Honolulu Police Chief Under Ethics Probe Over Missing Mailbox

April 2015

Wednesday, April 15

Public Asked For Input on Embattled HPD

February 2015

Tuesday, February 24

High Marks for Honolulu Police Chief Despite Controversy

January 2015

Friday, January 23

How Can Police Regain the Public’s Trust?

Tuesday, January 20

Don’t Expect a ‘Co-Chief’ Anytime Soon at HPD

Wednesday, January 14

Attorney: Honolulu Police Chief’s Stolen Mailbox ‘An FBI Matter’

Wednesday, January 7

Senators Want Better Management of HPD, Ask For ‘Co-Chiefs’

December 2014

Friday, December 19

Caldwell Won’t Discuss the Problems of Honolulu’s Police Chief

Wednesday, December 17

Honolulu Police Commission Defers Chief Kealoha Investigation

Tuesday, December 16

FBI Asked to Probe Whether Honolulu Police Mishandled Chief’s Mailbox Theft Case

Wednesday, December 10

Will Honolulu Police Commission Hold Chief Kealoha Accountable?

Friday, December 5

Did Honolulu’s Police Chief Intentionally Cause a Mistrial?

Thursday, December 4

Mistrial Declared in Honolulu Police Chief’s Missing Mailbox Case

September 2014

Thursday, September 25

Missing Mailbox Exposes Family Friction for HPD Chief, Prosecutor Wife