A lawsuit filed by Louis and Katherine Kealoha against Honolulu and its ethics commission in 2016 was dismissed last year. Now, taxpayers are on the hook for the cost of the legal defense: $355,682.

The Honolulu City Council had already authorized $300,000 in legal fees for the firm defending the interests of the city and the commission in 2016 and 2017.

On Wednesday, council members unanimously voted to authorize payment for the final legal invoice from Chong, Nishimoto, Sia, Nakamura & Goya, LLP.

Former HPD Chief Louis Kealoha and Katherine Kealoha holding hands leaving District Court after jury deliberated.
Former HPD Chief Louis Kealoha and Katherine Kealoha held hands while leaving District Court after a jury deliberated. Both were found guilty. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2019

The resolution did not address legal fees for two other firms that were hired to defend Chuck Totto and Letha DeCaires, former ethics commission employees who were also named in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed by former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha, his prosecutor wife, Katherine and their daughter Kristina while the couple was under federal investigation – a legal move one local attorney called “extremely bizarre.” They alleged they were unfairly targeted by ethics investigations.

The Kealohas characterized the commission’s probes as “unfounded, vindictive, unsubstantiated and illegal.”

“Given the level of destruction and terror caused by these flagrantly irresponsible individuals, the negative repercussions of their actions will be evident for some time,” the couple said in their complaint.

In June, a jury found the Kealohas and two Honolulu police officers, Derek Hahn and Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen, guilty of federal conspiracy charges and obstruction of justice.

Katherine Kealoha is currently behind bars at the Federal Detention Center awaiting a sentencing hearing in October. Her husband is free on bond until his own October sentencing.

Not a subscription

Civil Beat is a small nonprofit newsroom, and we’re committed to a paywall-free website and subscription-free content because we believe in journalism as a public service.
That’s why donations from readers like you are essential to our continued existence.
Help keep our journalism free for all readers by becoming a monthly member of Civil Beat today.

About the Author