City prosecutor pushing back against federal probe into police chief, wife

Published: Jun. 16, 2016 at 7:55 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 16, 2016 at 10:13 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Ka Wai Ola)
(Image: Ka Wai Ola)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's not often that a prosecutor refuses to cooperate with another prosecutor, but that appears to be the case in the ongoing federal grand jury investigation into the police chief and his wife.

City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro was in court Thursday for a hearing to decide whether he has to turn over evidence a federal prosecutor has requested in the case against Police Chief Louis Kealoha and the chief's wife, deputy city prosecutor Katherine Kealoha.

Among the files Kaneshiro doesn't want to turn over: Personnel records for Katherine Kealoha, who he supervises, and files pertaining to a speeding ticket that she got dismissed years ago, sources say.

"It's an extraordinary situation," said Myles Breiner, the attorney representing the couple. "I can't imagine that Mr. Kaneshiro will want to be held in contempt."

Federal grand jury proceedings are secret, so it's not clear what arguments Kaneshiro made at the hearing Thursday.

But the records Kaneshiro didn't want handed over could prove crucial to the case.

The speeding ticket Kealoha got dismissed was for a man Hawaii News Now is identifying as A.W. He was cited for driving 78 mph in a 35 mph zone on Likelike Highway, near the Wilson Tunnel.

Sources say she may have lied to the judge in order to get to the ticket dismissed.

At a September 2014 hearing on the ticket, Kealoha told the judge that a career criminal she was prosecuting stole A.W.'s identity and was using his license and pick-up truck. Kealoha is the head of the career criminal unit at the prosecutor's officer. A.W. is an electrician and apparently did work for the Kealohas.

On Thursday, in addition to Kaneshiro, the officer who wrote the ticket to A.W. was seen walking into the federal courthouse, also to testify before the federal grand jury.

It's unclear why Kaneshiro doesn't want to turn over the files relating to the speeding ticket or the personnel files. He refused to answer questions as he left the courthouse.

But Breiner believes it's because the federal prosecutor assigned to the case, Michael Wheat, is asking for too much and appears to be on a fishing expedition.

"I think Mr. Kaneshiro was fully in his right to ask the court to reign in Mr. Wheat to focus on a narrow area as opposed to a broad spectrum and a broad area," he said.

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