HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - New questions are being raised about an apparent investigation headed up by disgraced ex-deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha into the Board of Water Supply, and a whistleblower involved in the probe now believes it was all a sham.
Hawaii News Now has learned that Kealoha met with the BWS employee, who was supposed to be a key witness in a criminal case against the utility that she claimed to have launched.
That witness does not want to be named, but told HNN he met with Kealoha several times.
At one of their meetings, he snapped a quick picture of Kealoha with three-ring binders, apparently materials she had collected as part of the investigation.
The picture is out of focus because he was in a hurry.
Kealoha ensured his safety at all of the meetings, saying her office had people watching him.
“Gave me no impression at any time, that she was not looking out for me. She gave me the impression, quite the opposite, that she was looking out for me,” he said.
The employee welcomed the investigation even though he’d been warned about Kealoha, who was already suspected of corruption.
He knew at the time that the FBI had raided the city Prosecutor’s Office and her husband, ex-Police Chief Louis Kealoha, had been forced to retire after he was identified as a target of the Department of Justice.
But the whistleblower said he trusted Kealoha was working hard on the case, and that she had the support of her boss, city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, who attended one of their meetings.
In a letter dated Jan. 20, 2017, Kealoha references Kaneshiro’s appearance.
“It was great to hear you and Keith reminisce about old times, and catch up on the current issues,” she wrote. Kealoha signed the letter as supervising deputy prosecuting attorney.
The whistleblower said Kaneshiro even told him he was frustrated about being called to the federal grand jury investigating corruption.
“He said that he was having a hard time explaining to the federal people how things are done in Hawaii, different than they are on the mainland,” the man said.
Later that year, the Kealohas were indicted. And earlier this year, the former power couple were convicted of conspiracy and obstruction.
Kaneshiro, meanwhile, has been on a paid leave after receiving a target letter as part of the same federal prosecution.
More recently, the whistleblower said he met with Acting Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Dwight Nadamoto.
“I said what the hell is going on, what the hell is going on, man?” he said.
The reply: Nadamoto told him they found no evidence that there ever was an investigation into BWS by Kealoha ― or anyone else in the office.
“He said they couldn’t find anything. He said, we can’t find anything," the whistleblower said, adding that he fears the whole case was a fake ― something Kealoha used to get back at the Honolulu Ethics Commission.
Why target the Board of Water Supply to get at the commission?
In a lawsuit Kealoha filed, she complains that issues at the BWS were being ignored because the Ethics Commission was wasting time investigating her and her husband.
“I’m completely disheartened with the system," the whistleblower said, adding that he still hopes questionable practices at BWS will be looked into.