And Kealoha’s former lawyer, Kevin Sumida, is the one who filed the request with the police commission on the former chief’s behalf.
“I frankly don’t know what’s going on,” Commissioner Steve Levinson said. “And I’ve been scratching my head over it because it doesn’t seem terribly likely to me that Louis would be able to retain his free lawyer at the federal level if he’s got a lawyer at city and county expense.”
Sumida has said the Kealohas owe him hundreds of thousands of dollars for past legal representation, and had even taken out a $700,000 lien on their Hawaii Kai home, which is now subject to criminal forfeiture under federal law.
Sumida used to represent the Kealohas in the criminal case along with Honolulu defense lawyers Myles Breiner and Gary Modafferi. But the three asked to be removed from the case after saying the Kealohas could no longer pay for their services.
Federal prosecutors also wanted a judge to disqualify Sumida and Breiner based on a series of conflicts of interest, including the fact that Sumida could potentially become a witness in the criminal trial.
Sumida did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Kealoha and his wife, Katherine, were indicted along with four Honolulu police officers in October 2017 for framing a family member for the theft of their mailbox.
The Kealohas were additionally charged with a series of financial crimes, including bank fraud and identity theft. Among the victims were Katherine Kealoha’s uncle, her elder grandmother and two siblings over whom she had guardianship.
The criminal case has since split into two procedures, one involving the mailbox conspiracy and the other related to the financial crimes.
The Honolulu Police Commission is scheduled to discuss how best to proceed on the latest request from Kealoha at its Wednesday meeting, including whether to hold a contested case hearing before the public.
The commission denied Kealoha’s request for taxpayer-funded legal counsel in a related civil lawsuit that was filed against him by Katherine Kealoha’s uncle, Gerard Puana, who was the alleged victim of the frame job.
Stay Up To Date On The Coronavirus And Other Hawaii Issues
Before you go
Civil Beat is a small nonprofit newsroom that provides free content with no paywall. That means readership growth alone can’t sustain our journalism.
The truth is that less than 1% of our monthly readers are financial supporters. To remain a viable business model for local news, we need a higher percentage of readers-turned-donors.