Retired police officer who pleaded guilty in Kealoha case sentenced

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Updated: Feb. 3, 2021 at 3:38 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Retired Honolulu police officer Niall Silva was sentenced to nine months behind bars Wednesday for his role in the corruption case that took down the Kealohas.

He must surrender June 14, and will serve a year of supervised release following his prison term.

Chief Judge Michael Seabright acknowledged Silva had taken responsibility for his actions by pleading guilty in 2016 to conspiracy and by then aiding federal prosecutors.

But Seabright said Silva broke his oath to uphold the law.

“There is a message that needs to go to law enforcement,” Seabright said, before handing down the sentence. Silva was facing anything from probation to months of confinement.

Former Big Island firefighter Jesse Ebersole also learned his fate Wednesday.

He was sentenced to two years probation and 500 hours of community services after pleading guilty in 2018 to a charge of conspiracy to obstruct, admitting that he lied to the grand jury about his affair with Katherine Kealoha, the former high-ranking deputy city prosecutor who is now serving time.

Ebersole addressed the court Wednesday, apologizing for what he’d done and saying that his actions were “the result of horrible decisions ... including deceiving the grand jury.”

Jesse Ebersole, right, arrives at the federal courthouse on Wednesday with his attorney.
Jesse Ebersole, right, arrives at the federal courthouse on Wednesday with his attorney.(Hawaii News Now)

Ebersole and Silva are the last two defendants to be sentenced in the Kealoha case.

After the sentencing hearing, Silva’s attorney said the former officer accepts the court’s decision.

“He wants to get on with his life,” lawyer William Harrison said. “Obviously, if he had to do it all over again he wouldn’t be here. He made a mistake, accepted that mistake and is moving forward.”

Silva’s crime stems from the 2014 Kealoha mailbox trial.

Former deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha and her husband Louis, the former police chief, falsely accused a relative ― Gerard Puana ― of stealing their mailbox because of a family feud.

[Read more: Years-long Kealoha mailbox case to come to an end as last 2 defendants are sentenced]

And during Puana’s trial, Silva lied on the stand about his role in the investigation.

That case ended in a mistrial. And not long after that, Silva switched sides.

He was the first to come forward and federal prosecutors again described him Wednesday as instrumental in getting the federal case against the Kealohas to the next level.

The once-powerful law enforcement couple were convicted of conspiracy, obstruction and bank fraud. Louis Kealoha was sentenced to seven years, while Katherine Kealoha got 13.

Two other police officers were also convicted in the case.

This story will be updated.

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