In filings, Katherine Kealoha says she was ordered to tell officer to ‘stand down’

UH law professor criticized for analyzing the Kealoha?s case gets key backing
UH law professor criticized for analyzing the Kealoha?s case gets key backing
Updated: Apr. 29, 2019 at 5:25 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When police officer Jared Spiker wanted to arrest Hawaii businessman and convicted felon Mike Miske for fleeing a traffic stop, Miske warned him, “Listen, I going go to the top of the food chain. Trust me, Jared Spiker.”

Later, the officer received a call from Katherine Kealoha, who at the time was a high-ranking deputy city prosecutor.

Kealoha now admits she told Spiker to “stand down” in that phone call. But she says the directive wasn’t made because she was at the top of the “food chain.”

Rather, she claims her supervisor ordered her to make the call.

The city Prosecutor’s Office, meanwhile, says Miske did not get special treatment.

Kealoha is trying to prevent her personnel records from her time at the city Prosecutor’s Office from being used as evidence in a state court criminal case against another officer ― who actually did arrest Miske ― several weeks after Kealoha made the call to Spiker.

That officer, former Sgt. Albert Lee, is being prosecuted for an accident in December 2016, in which Lee was found in the passenger seat of his own car after it had crashed into an electrical substation.

He claims that the city Prosecutor’s Office an used extraordinary amount of time and money to prosecute him for misdemeanor drunk driving. He says he was sleeping in the car and woke up after the accident, and doesn’t remember who was driving.

Because Lee had been a witness against Kealoha in the FBI investigation, his attorney argues that Kealoha was using her office to retaliate against him.

Kealoha denies having anything to do with the case against Lee.

Lee’s attorney, Megan Kau, has subpoenaed Kealoha’s employment file to show she was in a position to influence the case. Kau said the city Prosecutor’s Office has already confirmed that she was the head of the Career Criminal Unit at the time the Lee case was initiated.

But the internal emails Kealoha included in her motion to keep her records secret may take the case in a new direction ― by implying higher officials in the office, including city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, were involved in protecting Miske.

Kaneshiro is now on leave after receiving a target letter from federal investigators.

In her motion, Kealoha denies ever meeting Miske.

The emails include messages from Roger Lau, a longtime investigator in the office who Kealoha describes as her superior, asking Kealoha to call him. Kealoha later writes Lau: “As requested, I spoke with Jared this morning and he was really awesome and he will stand down at this time.”

Later, the office’s chief investigator, Wayne Wills, sent Kaneshiro a lengthy memo complaining about Lee. In it, he confirms that Miske had complained about Spiker coming to his bar looking for him.

The memo says Lau asked Kealoha to call Spiker to prevent Miske’s arrest, implying that the city Prosecutor’s Office owed him a favor.

“Roger (Lau) also mentioned that MM (Miske) had assisted PAT (Prosecuter’s Office), specifically with some stuff at the FJC,” Wills wrote. The FJC is likely the Family Justice Center, a project pushed by Kaneshiro to provide protection to domestic violence victims who planned to testify against abusers.

Hawaii News Now has reported that the facility is among the subjects of the federal investigation. The refurbished building in Makiki cost several million dollars and was barely used ― at least during its first two years.

Because of the potential conflict of interest in the Albert Lee case, the Kauai County Prosecutor’s Office has taken over the prosecution.

The Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting Miske for a 2016 felony assault case tied to his role as manager and partial owner of M Nightclub at Restaurant Row, which has since closed down.

The assault case against Miske was being handled by Honolulu prosecutors until July of last year, when the attorney general took over without explanation. The emails between officials in the prosecutors office, which discussed Miske’s “assistance," were in May 2016 ― 14 months before the attorney general took over the case.

The city Prosecutor’s Office denies any special consideration for Miske. It says Miske’s company, Kamaaaina Plumbing, did emergency repairs on two units at the Prosecutor’s Safe House, formerly the Family Justice Center, in March 2015. Receipts provided by the office include two valve replacements for a total of about $208.

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