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Ex-HPD chief begins 7-year prison sentence for crimes he now denies

Published: Jun. 1, 2021 at 2:33 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 5:06 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Louis Kealoha is now a federal prison inmate.

The ex-police chief of Honolulu surrendered at a facility in Sheridan, Oregon on Tuesday as ordered by a judge to begin serving a seven-year term.

And as he starts serving time, Kealoha is now claiming innocence for his crimes.

In a May 7 deposition, Kealoha said under oath that he should not have been convicted of conspiracy and obstruction, despite his conviction in June 2019 and subsequent guilty plea for bank fraud.

In the transcript, shown to HNN, Kealoha flatly denied his involvement in the conspiracy and said he was “improperly convicted in the federal criminal case.”

Kealoha had a very different message after his sentencing in December. He told reporters after leaving the courthouse that he took “full responsibility” for his actions and was sorry for the pain he’d caused.

Kealoha and his wife, Katherine, an ex-deputy prosecutor, were both convicted in the conspiracy in which they tried to frame a relative with a federal crime ― the theft of their mailbox.

Two other police officers were also convicted of setting Gerard Puana up.

Puana filed a civil lawsuit against the city as a result of the wrongful prosecution and his civil attorney, Eric Seitz, deposed Louis Kealoha in the case early last month.

In the deposition, Seitz asks Kealoha: “Even though you entered into a sentencing agreement and pled guilty in the subsequent case, as you sit here today, do you believe that you should not have been convicted?”

Kealoha answered, “Yes.”

He also denied it was a conspiracy, saying, “That is not what happened.”

“What did happen?” Seitz asked.

Kealoha responded, “Somebody stole our mailbox. We opened an investigation and that was it.”

Retired public defender Alexander Silvert, who represented Puana when he was being prosecuted for the staged mailbox theft, said he was more than surprised by Kealoha’s statements.

“This was Louis Kealoha’s opportunity to start making things right,” Silvert said. “And, in fact, not only did he not do that, he went the opposite direction.”

He pointed out that Kealoha admitted to the crimes in a federal court hearing and that these statements now contradict that.

“He stood before a federal judge, raised his right arm and swore an oath that these facts were true and that he was criminally responsible for having been part of the conspiracy,” Silvert said.

Silvert said Kealoha benefited from that by getting a lighter sentence for accepting responsibility.

Attorney William Harrison was involved in the May 7 deposition because he represents another former officer who pleaded guilty in the conspiracy.

Harrison said he was also concerned when he heard Kealoha’s answers.

“Those were surprising statements,” Harrison said, noting that Kealoha either lied in court when he pleaded guilty or lied during the deposition. Both were under oath, but it’s unlikely that Kealoha will be prosecuted for perjury because he is already in prison serving his seven-year sentence.

Kealoha co-conspirator Derek Hahn, a former HPD lieutenant, also surrendered in Sheridan, Oregon on Tuesday to begin his sentence of three and a half years. Former officer Ming-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen is serving his four and a half years sentence in South Dakota.

Katherine Kealoha has already served two years of her 13-year sentence.

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