HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Honolulu Deputy Prosecutor under investigation for potential criminal and ethics violations claims she's the victim of racism and incompetence.
Katherine Kealoha and her husband, Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha, are fighting back with a massive lawsuit that names the city, the Ethics Commission and several individuals.
Among the dozens of exhibits included in the nearly 1,500 page lawsuit is a detailed letter that Katherine Kealoha sent to her boss, City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, just three weeks ago.
In the letter dated June 1, 2016, Katherine Kealoha explains her and her husband's side of the story in response to accusations of misconduct and illegal activity that have resulted in both city Ethics Commission investigations and a federal probe by the FBI.
"After careful review of these documents, it will be evident to any reasonable person that this whole things is a total shibai," Kealoha wrote.
"They've been the target for many months now of inuendo and rumors about their marriage, about their relationships, about their private life, about their professional life -- and frankly they're fed up with it. This lawsuit, I think, is an appropriate vehicle to bring to the forefront publicly as opposed to leaks through various witnesses through the grand jury or through the Ethics Commission -- but to get this out in front of the public, so the public can decide what's right and what's wrong," explained Myles Breiner, a criminal defense lawyer who is representing the Kealohas in the ongoing federal grand jury.
The letter describes Katherine Kealoha's relationship with her uncle, Gerard Puana, as being on "good terms" -- even though she later accused him of stealing her mailbox during a financial fued. That claim set off a series of events questioning the couple's use of police and prosecutorial resources.
Puana was charged with theft, but during his trial Chief Kealoha made statements on the stand that resulted in a mistrial.
However, in the letter, Katherine Kealoha describes the case as being undermined by an incompetent U.S. Attorney's office, saying the prosecutor "seemed to think that this case was too manini to be worth his time".
The letter goes on to accuse former Ethics Commission Executive Director Chuck Totto of vindictively persecuting the couple with a "year of humiliation" in which he could "only find some totally manini errors made on our financial disclosure forms".
Katherine Kealoha goes on to describe Totto as someone who "systematically favored haoles while targetting local people for prosecution of ethics matters".
"Both Katherine Kealoha and the Chief -- they recognize that they should be held to a certain degree of scrutiny that the average person isn't subjected to. That's not the issue. The issue is their right to have a fair and public examination of the accusations and inuendos and the rumors that have been leveled against them," said Breiner.
Breiner is not the lawyer the Kealohas hired to file their third and most recent lawsuit against the city -- however, he is representing them in the federal criminal investigation before a grand jury, which is looking into many of the same allegations the Ethics Commission was investigating.
Financial disclosure forms indicate Katherine Kealoha's defense has already cost more than half a million dollars.
City taxpayers are also paying to defend the city against the Kealohas lawsuits, but officials told us they do not keep track of the hours spent by in-house attorneys -- and therefore, it's unclear what the total cost has been.\