Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard believes Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro should not be attending monthly public safety staff meetings because of reports that he’s a target of a federal investigation into Honolulu law enforcement.

Ballard notified city Managing Director Roy Amemiya in a Tuesday email that she was “uncomfortable having Keith Kaneshiro” and another person, whose name was redacted by city officials, attending the weekly meetings in the mayor’s office. The email was released Thursday.

“I understand that he is innocent until proven guilty, but in my experience, if you get a target letter, you will be indicted,” Ballard wrote. “The sharing of any sensitive information at this point, I believe is not in the best interest of the police department or the city.”

Honolulu Police Dept Chief Susan Ballard discusses shooting today that happened at Foodland.
Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard would prefer that the city’s prosecuting attorney stay away from weekly public safety meetings. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Each month, Caldwell chairs a meeting attended by the managing director, department heads and deputies from the police and fire departments along with representatives from the corporation counsel and prosecuting attorney’s office.

Alexander Zannes, a spokesman for the mayor’s office, told Civil Beat that Amemiya is “seriously considering the chief’s concern” and that the issue will be decided prior to the next meeting in late January.

The email was sent to Amemiya, the city’s second in command, because Mayor Kirk Caldwell is on vacation until Dec. 28.

Brooks Baehr, a spokesman for Kaneshiro’s office, declined to comment on Ballard’s email. Kaneshiro has refused to confirm or deny receiving a target letter from federal prosecutors.

Kaneshiro’s chief deputy, Chasid Sapolu, announced a week ago he was taking a leave of absence after confirming he received a “subject” letter from federal prosecutors. The investigators notify potential subjects and targets of investigations they are being scrutinized through subject or target letters.

Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro. Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

A subject letter notifies a party that specific  actions are being reviewed by a federal grand jury but those actions may not yet be a provable crime. A target letter is more serious, indicating that the recipient’s actions may involve the commission of a crime.

It’s been more than a year since Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, Katherine Kealoha, a former assistant prosecutor in Kaneshiro’s office, were indicted on corruption and bank fraud charges.

They will be tried on the corruption charges, along with four Honolulu Police Department officers, next spring. A separate bank fraud case is scheduled to begin next summer.

Earlier this week, a petition signed by 864 people was filed in the 1st Circuit Court asking that impeachment proceedings begin against Kaneshiro. Circuit Judge Jeffrey Crabtree will hold a hearing on Jan. 8 at 10:30 a.m. to consider the petition.

Read Ballard’s email here:

Help Power Local, Nonprofit News.

Across the nation and in Hawaii, news organizations are downsizing and closing their doors due to the ever-rising costs of keeping local journalism alive and well.

While Civil Beat has grown year over year, still only 1% of our readers are donors, and we need your help now more than ever.

Make a gift today of any amount, and your donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $20,500, thanks to a generous group of Civil Beat donors.

About the Author