Years-long Kealoha mailbox case to come to an end as last 2 defendants are sentenced

Years-long Kealoha mailbox case to come to an end as last 2 defendants are sentenced
Federal Courthouse. Honolulu, Hawaii. (Source: HNN)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Retired Honolulu police officer Niall Silva is set to be sentenced Wednesday for his role in the corruption case that took down the Kealohas.

Silva could get anything from probation to months of confinement for lying on the stand.

He is one of the last two defendants in the case to be sentenced.

Jesse Ebersole, a former Big Island firefighter, is also set to hear his fate Wednesday.

Jesse Ebersole leaves federal court after pleading guilty to lying to the grand jury about his long-term affair with Katherine Kealoha.
Jesse Ebersole leaves federal court after pleading guilty to lying to the grand jury about his long-term affair with Katherine Kealoha. (Source: none)

Ebersole pleaded 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. That affair was funded using stolen money.

He is no longer with the fire department and later cooperated with prosecutors.

Niall Silva pleaded guilty in 2016 to conspiracy.

The retired police officer’s crime stems from the 2014 mailbox trial.

Niall Silva pleaded guilty in 2016 to lying under oath and agreed to testify in the so-called "mailbox trial." (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Niall Silva pleaded guilty in 2016 to lying under oath and agreed to testify in the so-called "mailbox trial." (Image: Hawaii News Now)

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.

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 prosecutors described him 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.

The Kealohas leave federal court after learning of their guilty verdicts (Image: Hawaii News Now)
The Kealohas leave federal court after learning of their guilty verdicts (Image: Hawaii News Now)

“I believe the government will admit that (Silva) was pivotal in their further investigation,” said William Harrison, Silva’s attorney, who believes his client’s cooperation will come into play during sentencing.

Harrison also pointed out that Silva complied with the conditions of his release for the past five years, not getting into trouble once.

“He’s suffered tremendously over these past few years,” Harrison said, adding that Silva has been waiting to put this case behind him but repeat delays have made it difficult for him to move on.

Alexander Silvert, the attorney who represented Gerard Puana in the mailbox case, said Silva’s crime ― lying on the stand ― deserves some jail time.

“The bedrock principle of our justice system is that people take an oath to tell the truth,” Silvert said, “When a person stands in front of a jury and lies, a police officer does that, there has to be ramifications to send a message to other people.”

Chief Judge J. Michael Seabright will hand down his decision in two separate sentencing hearings Wednesday afternoon.

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