It appears Louis and Katherine Kealoha will have to wait.
The law enforcement couple has been the subject of a years-long criminal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department that stemmed from allegations that they framed Katherine Kealoha’s uncle, Gerard Puana, for the theft of their mailbox in 2013 to gain the upper hand in a financial dispute.
A grand jury has spent two years listening to the evidence of the alleged frame job, but so far officials have yet to announce an indictment implicating the Kealohas or their alleged co-conspirators in any wrongdoing.
This is significant if only because the grand jury’s term expired on Thursday, and there are some, including Puana’s attorney, Alexander Silvert, who believe that criminal charges are just around the corner.
Silvert said he based that assumption on the fact that three Honolulu police officers, one of whom is retired, were arrested this week in connection with the alleged frame job that targeted his client.
“I would expect that indictments were issued today and are being held under seal pending arrests and the defendants being brought into court,” Silvert said. “While I don’t know if indictments were issued, this would be the normal practice in federal court.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Wheat, of San Diego, who’s been spearheading the criminal investigation into the Kealohas and others on behalf of the U.S. Justice Department, refused to discuss what might be next for his team of prosecutors who have been traveling back and forth to Hawaii for nearly two years.
Grand jury proceedings are secret, and Wheat has continually declined to talk about his investigation.
So far he’s charged four Honolulu police officers, all of them tied to the Honolulu Police Department’s secretive Criminal Intelligence Unit, with crimes related to the alleged frame job. One of those officers, Niall Silva, pleaded guilty in December 2016.
The other three, Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen, Gordon Shiraishi, who retired from HPD in April, and Derek Hahn, were all arrested and charged with taking part in the alleged conspiracy this week.
The Kealohas’ defense attorney, Myles Breiner, said Thursday that he was unaware if a criminal indictment naming his clients as suspects had been issued by the grand jury. He did say, however, that the Kealohas are prepared to be arrested by the FBI despite his belief that they’ve done nothing wrong.
“My clients are innocent and I believe that ultimately they will be vindicated,” Breiner said.
Breiner criticized Wheat’s handling of his investigation and the recent arrests of Nguyen, Shiraishi and Hahn, saying that there was no need to take them into custody and “perp walk” them into court.
Breiner described such tactics as part of a dog-and-pony show, which has been a common refrain for him throughout the investigation.
He also took aim at the FBI’s decision to execute search warrants at clients’ homes this week , saying that it seemed like a sign of “desperation” on the part of the federal government.
“If they had a case the case would have been charged a long time ago,” Breiner said. “I can’t prognosticate on what Mr. Wheat is doing. I can only respond to what I see, and what I’ve seen so far are criminal complaints that contain a lot of innuendo, the prosecutor’s theory and a lot of hearsay evidence.”
Breiner would not comment on what the FBI seized when it searched the Kealohas’ residences, saying that he hadn’t reviewed the evidence list yet.
Stay Up To Date On The Coronavirus And Other Hawaii Issues