HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The former police chief and his deputy prosecutor wife are refusing to cooperate with a lawsuit they initiated against the Honolulu Ethics Commission.
The suit was filed on June 17, 2016 against the commission's former director, Chuck Totto, and investigator Letha Decaires.
At the time, Louis and Katherine Kealoha accused the city and the two employees of defamation. Already, the civil case has cost taxpayers more than $543,000 in attorneys' fees to defend the agency, Totto and Decaires.
The suit was filed after the commission started investigating financial transactions that the Kealohas did not report on public disclosure forms.
Joachim Cox, Totto's attorney, said the city's investigation was on track to find the same alleged crimes the Kealohas have since been indicted for by a federal grand jury.
"They were right on the verge," Cox said. "They were hot on the trail of what was going wrong in this situation and what did they get for that? In our minds, wrongly removed from their positions because the Kealohas were putting that pressure on them."
Cox said it is obvious that the real purpose of the civil lawsuit was to stop the investigation into the power couple and gain information on the evidence the FBI had against them.
In court filings, attorney Kevin Sumida, who represented the Kealohas, asked witnesses in the civil suit if they had been contacted by the federal, special prosecutor or the FBI agents investigating the couple
Now that they have been indicted and the evidence has been revealed, Cox said the Kealohas are refusing to go froward with the civil suit, so it has stalled.
Cox got a letter last month from Sumida, saying they will not appear for scheduled depositions. Cox is now asking a judge to throw out the civil case until the Kealohas are willing to cooperate.
"We want to go ahead and shut this down so that the taxpayers don't have to ride along with the Kealoha's fishing expedition," Cox said.
Federal Public Defender Ali Silvert initiated the FBI investigation against the Kealohas. He said the civil suit was a way to distract from the real issue —public corruption.
"The Kealohas brought the lawsuit, they are the plaintiffs. And for them to bring the lawsuit and then to stop the lawsuit by refusing to cooperate in depositions is the unusual part of that case," Silvert said.
While Totto's attorney wants the case dropped altogether, the Kealohas want it put on hold.
A judge will hear from both sides at a hearing this week.