Court records: Police chief's wife was part of effort to frame uncle

Katherine Kealoha (center) confers with her attorneys during a civil suit. (Image: Hawaii News Now/File)
Katherine Kealoha (center) confers with her attorneys during a civil suit. (Image: Hawaii News Now/File)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In newly-released court records, a federal prosecutor indicates the police chief's wife, Katherine Kealoha, was deeply involved in an effort to frame her uncle by faking the theft of her mailbox.

The bombshell in the public corruption case against the police chief and his wife, a deputy city prosecutor, comes as a former Honolulu police officer prepares to enter into a plea agreement and admit to lying in court to help his former boss, Hawaii News Now has learned.

It's a sign that indictments in the case could be coming down soon.

Sources say that retired Officer Niall Silva has accepted the plea deal from the federal prosecutor and will testify against the power couple and several other officers tied to the Kealohas.

"These dominoes are going to start to fall," said attorney Victor Bakke, who is not involved in the case, "Once they start falling, I think they're going to fall hard."

Silva was the first officer to testify at the theft trial of a Kealoha relative, Gerard Puana; the two sides were involved in a bitter dispute over family finances.

They accused Puana of stealing the Kealohas' mailbox to get financial documents.

In court, Silva said, that on June 22, 2013, he went to the Kealohas' Kahala Home to investigate the stolen mailbox. When he arrived, he said, he met with Officer Bobby Nguyen, who was already there.

Nguyen is also related to the Kealohas; in fact, at one point he was living in their guest house.

Silva told the court that he was ordered to retrieve the surveillance video of the mailbox theft and, court documents show, he testified that he checked the recording equipment and made sure it was operating correctly.

He said, under oath, that he even reviewed the footage.

"After I did all of that," Silva told the court, "I removed the hard drive." He said he then put it into evidence.

But sources say that Silva is now prepared to tell the court that he lied. He never went to the Kealohas' home, never retrieved the video. He will say it was in fact Nguyen who did that.

This is significant because Puana has always insisted that the mailbox was never really stolen.

In the newly-obtained court documents, federal investigators say the "manner and means of the conspiracy" was that in order to frame and discredit Puana, "co-conspirator no. 1" would claim that the mailbox had been stolen.

The documents later say that co-conspirator no. 1 later called police from the Kealoha residence. In other court documents, Katherine Kealoha is identified as the person who made that call.

Separately, a civil lawsuit Puana filed this week accuses the Kealohas and five others -- including Nguyen and Silva -- of conspiring against him. Puana alleges the group made up the mailbox theft to get him arrested and prosecuted for a crime.

If the court accepts Silva's plea deal, he faces a sentence that ranges from probation to five years in prison.

The Kealohas and their attorney have consistently denied any wrongdoing and claim they are the subject of a campaign to destroy their reputations through unfounded allegations and leaks. Their attorney could not be reached for comment.

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