For nearly six months, Megan Kau, a local lawyer who’s running a campaign to become Honolulu’s top elected prosecutor, represented a company in federal court that was owned by alleged Hawaii crime boss Michael Miske.
Though many of the court records have been sealed from public view, the documents reflect that Kau as well as several other attorneys were hired by Miske’s company Hawaii Partners LLC to help him get back possession of his Boston Whaler boat, the Painkiller.
Federal investigators seized the vessel as part of their investigation into the alleged kidnapping and murder of 21-year-old Jonathan Fraser.
In a recently unsealed indictment, Miske is accused of orchestrating Fraser’s murder after he mistakenly believed he was to blame for a car accident that killed Miske’s son, Caleb, and purchasing the Painkiller to dump Fraser’s body in the ocean.
Kau told Civil Beat she couldn’t talk about the specifics of the case or her eventual withdrawal in August 2018 due to the confidential nature of the proceedings. She said she was hired by Delia-Anne Fabro, who at the time was listed as the manager for Hawaii Partners, although Kau understood that Miske was still involved with the company.
Fabro is Caleb Miske’s widow, and federal authorities say she was used by Michael Miske as a front for some of his companies, including Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control, to help hide his assets, confuse investigators and thwart his eventual prosecution.
Kau, a former deputy prosecutor for the City and County of Honolulu, said she was aware of Miske’s reputation at the time she took the case in late 2017 as well as the rumors surrounding Miske’s alleged involvement in Fraser’s disappearance.
She reiterated that Fabro, not Miske, was the one who hired her to take on a case that she described as narrowly tailored to the seizure of private property by the federal government.
“I am a criminal defense attorney, and I am also a civil litigator,” Kau said. “I represent murderers, rapists, kidnappers and people who are fighting over money.
“I represent people who are fighting over the Kawananakoa trust. I represent people fighting against businesses because they say the businesses are stealing money. I represent people who have slipped and fallen in private entities like Costco and Sam’s Club. I represented people who were in helicopters and have died. That’s my job right now.”
Kau said she’s spent nearly a decade building a successful private practice, and that her client list should not take away from her desire to serve as Honolulu’s prosecuting attorney.
“It’s a different job,” she said. “Just because I represent police officers doesn’t mean I’m not going to prosecute police officers. I’m the only candidate who is taking the position that we have to objectively apply the criminal law against everyone that violates the law, whether it is a rich or poor person, Hawaiian or non-Hawaiian, police officer or non-police officer, doctor or non-doctor janitor or non-janitor.”
From the start of her campaign, Kau has painted herself as an anti-corruption candidate.
If elected, Kau said she plans to sanitize the Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, which in recent years has been tainted by an ongoing corruption investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.
Already former deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha and her husband, retired Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha have been convicted of a series of federal crimes stemming from their attempts to frame a family member for the theft of their mailbox.
Keith Kaneshiro, who Kau is hoping to replace as Honolulu’s prosecuting attorney, is also the target of the same team of federal investigators, who believe he may have committed criminal acts while in office.
Kaneshiro has taken paid leave from office, which is currently run by Dwight Nadamoto, one of several candidates Kau beat out during the Aug. 8 primary to advance to the general election in November where she will square off against retired Circuit Court judge Steven Alm.
Kau said that if she wins in November she will get rid of any employee who she believes helped or protected Kealoha while she committed criminal acts.
“People are sick of politicians doing backdoor deals, owing people and being complacent,” Kau said. “I’m going to shake things up and I’m going to tell you exactly what’s going on. I don’t hide anything. Everything that I do is a matter of public record.”
The fact that Kau represented Hawaii Partners hasn’t stopped her from raising questions about Miske and his relationship with top officials in law enforcement, particularly those inside the Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
In fact, she already knew about Miske’s supposed ties to local law enforcement through another client.
At the same time Kau worked for Hawaii Partners she represented Honolulu police sergeant Albert Lee in a 2016 drunken driving case that she argued was the result of malicious prosecution in retaliation for Lee’s arrest of Miske after he fled the scene of a traffic stop in 2015 and threatened the officer who tried to issue him a citation.
Miske threatened the initial officer, Jared Spiker, in a series of phone calls in which he told him he “better be careful” and that he should back off because he could “go to the top of the food chain.”
After that threat, Katherine Kealoha, a deputy prosecutor at the time who was married to Spiker’s boss, Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha, contacted Spiker and told him to stand down. That order, email records show, was given to Kealoha by Roger Lau, a special assistant to Kaneshiro.
Kau said Lee was supposed to testify before a federal grand jury about the apparent connections between Miske and Katherine Kealoha, but never did because of the accident and his subsequent prosecution. She said she’s also provided information herself to the federal prosecutors who have been investigating the Kealohas and Kaneshiro.
When Fabro hired her to represent Hawaii Partners, Kau said, she had already begun making the connections between Miske, Kealoha and the prosecutors office.
“I don’t hide who I represent, I take all the big cases,” Kau said.
“Here’s what you have to be afraid of,” she added, “someone who’s not talking about what they’re doing.”
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.
Will you consider becoming a new donor today?