The FBI executed a search warrant at the Honolulu Department of the Prosecuting Attorney on Friday morning as part of an ongoing corruption probe into the city police chief and his wife, who is a deputy prosecutor.
Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro confirmed in a two-sentence written statement that his office cooperated with FBI investigators and gave them the information they sought.
The statement was hand-delivered by Kaneshiro’s spokesman, Chuck Parker, to members of the press who had gathered in front of the elevators leading to the prosecutor’s office at Alii Place in downtown Honolulu.
Parker did not comment when delivering the statement.
“FBI agents served a search warrant at the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney this morning,” Kaneshiro said. “This office fully cooperated with the agents and provided information requested in the warrant.”
One of Kaneshiro’s top deputy prosecutors, Katherine Kealoha, is at the center of an ongoing public corruption and abuse of power investigation being conducted by the U.S. Justice Department.
Her husband, Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha, is also caught up in the federal probe. He placed himself on voluntary paid leave after the FBI notified him he was a target of a grand jury investigation that found evidence that he was involved in criminal acts.
The Kealohas have said they are innocent.
Kaneshiro, meanwhile, has been outspoken about the ongoing criminal probe, saying that the Justice Department is overreaching. He has been particularly critical of Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Wheat, who has been conducting the grand jury proceedings.
The investigation stemmed from allegations that the Kealohas had framed Gerard Puana for the theft of their mailbox to gain the upper hand in a legal fight over money. Puana is the estranged uncle of Katherine Keaoha, and he had accused her of stealing money from him and his mother.
One retired police officer has already pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges for admitting to taking part in the set-up. At least four other Honolulu police officers have received target letters from the Justice Department.
The Kealohas criminal defense attorney, Myles Breiner, said that the federal government had issued subpoenas Thursday to gain access to two laptops Katherine Kealoha used for work as a city prosecutor.
He said that he and Kaneshiro went before a federal judge to argue against turning over the computers to federal investigators because they were worried that sensitive information might be contained on the devices.
Breiner said he was particularly worried that federal investigators would get access to communications between him and Katherine Kealoha, which he said should be protected by attorney-client privilege. He said Kaneshiro, on the other hand, was concerned that investigators would get access to information related to his office’s ongoing investigations.
The search warrant executed Friday was simply a way to work around those concerns, Breiner noted, because it allowed investigators to avoid the conflict with private communications between Katherine Kealoha and her attorneys. The Kealohas are also represented by Kevin Sumida in their civil cases.
“I see it as a logical extension of Mr. Wheat’s efforts to continue his investigation and to also rattle the cages, so to speak, of everyone that he believes is in his way of obtaining the truth,” Breiner said of Friday’s search warrant. “He runs the grand jury and the grand jury is a creature of the prosecutor. It goes where the prosecutor wants to go. He’s the engineer and they’re the train. He’s driving it forward.”
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