A lawsuit filed by Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha, his prosecutor wife, Katherine, and their daughter could cost the city a bundle in legal fees.

On Wednesday, the Honolulu City Council is set to hire three outside law firms to defend itself and two former employees from the Kealohas’ legal action, which alleges that the couple was unfairly targeted by the city ethics commission.

If the contracts are approved taxpayers could be on the hook for up to $300,000, if not more, depending on the length and complexity of the case.

HPD Chief Louis Kealoha greetings HPD officers after promotions ceremony held at McCoy Pavillion.
Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha has refused to step-down despite being under criminal investigation. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The Kealohas are currently under federal criminal investigation for public corruption and abuse of power stemming from the 2013 theft of their mailbox and allegations that they framed Katherine Kealoha’s uncle for the crime.

An ethics probe was launched after it was announced that the missing mailbox case — which started off as a federal prosecution against the uncle — had been forwarded to the FBI for investigation.

City attorneys have disqualified themselves from representing the city or the ethics commission in the Kealohas’ lawsuit.

The attorneys have also disqualified themselves from representing former Honolulu Ethics Commission executive director Chuck Totto and former ethics commission investigator Letha DeCaires, who are also named in the lawsuit.

Chong, Nishimoto, Sia, Nakamura and Goya will represent the city for a cost of up to $100,000, with the option to increase the amount should it be required.

Fricke Cox LLP will represent Totto under similar conditions, and Kobayashi, Sugita & Goda will represent DeCaires.

About the Author