HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - High-profile city law enforcement officials were summoned to the federal courthouse Thursday to testify in the federal probe into Honolulu's police chief and his wife, a deputy prosecutor.
City Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro and the second-in-command at the Honolulu Police Department, Deputy Chief Marie McCauley, testified before the federal grand jury, which will decide if Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, Katherine, should face charges of civil rights violations and public corruption.
Since the secret grand jury proceedings began late last year, Hawaii News Now has spotted several current and retired police officers arriving to testify. But this was the first time such high-level law enforcement were called.
Defense attorney Victor Bakke said the development is "a very good sign of just how far this investigation is going."
But Myles Breiner, criminal defense attorney for the Kealohas, says calling Kaneshiro and McCauley proves that the special prosecutor from California assigned to the case is struggling.
"It seems he's going to the bottom of the barrel attempting to intimidate people," he said. "We know that when he can't get someone to testify or they assert their right to remain silent he subpoenas family members. That tells me that he's desperate to put pressure on police officers."
The probe came out of a family battle over money. The FBI is looking into the actions of the Kealohas while they were involved in the dispute, and if they used their authority to gain the upper hand.
Kaneshiro and McCauley arrived at the federal courthouse in the back seat of a government vehicle that belongs to the U.S. Marshals Service.
Sources say they arranged to be picked up and taken to the basement of the building, where cameras are not allowed. That way, they didn't have to walk into court through the public entrances like every other witness.
Some are criticizing this as special treatment.
"When you do see law enforcement, it's usually for the protection of people not just to avoid them seeing the news cameras and that's what is really concerning in this case because she's a high ranking police officer and this is a police officer-based case," Bakke said. "Where is the danger that would justify the resources, the time and the money, to provide security for these people?"
The U.S.Marshals have been known to escort grand jury witnesses, but it's often because there is a security concern or the witnesses are in danger.