Federal investigators went to the Honolulu prosecutor’s office armed with a search warrant Friday.
Prosecuting attorney Keith Kaneshiro said in a statement, “FBI agents served a search warrant at the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney this morning. This office fully cooperated with the agents and provided information requested in the warrant.”
Myles Breiner, attorney for deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha and her husband, police chief Louis Kealoha, told KHON2 News that federal investigators served Katherine Kealoha with a subpoena Thursday for two of her laptops, which were in the prosecutor’s office. Those were handed over.
Federal agents then returned to the office Friday, Breiner said, with a search warrant to secure servers.
Breiner says the information is just being secured at this point so they are not tampered with. There will be a hearing next month to determine how much access federal investigators will have to the laptops.
“After a discussion with Judge (Michael) Seabright, it was determined that the computers, two laptops, will be held by the District Court so that both sides could arrange to have the hard drives copied,” Breiner said. “An entire server system has to be analyzed so it remains to be seen what’s going to be turned over pursuant to the court’s order.”
“There’s a perception at least that the feds are closer to an indictment. Is that not true?” KHON2 asked.
“It can be perceived any number of ways, and the fact that it has taken over a year to get this far and they are now requesting analysis of computers, no, that probably means they’re a long way away from anything else, because it takes a long time to have computers forensically analyzed,” he replied.
Neither Katherine Kealoha nor Kaneshiro has received a target letter in the investigation.
The FBI did not elaborate on the search warrants, but acknowledged the visit as part of an investigation:
FBI Special Agents were conducting investigative activity at the Office of the Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney, located at 1060 Richards St #10, Honolulu, Hawaii, earlier today. Absent public safety, it is standard protocol of the FBI not to provide information about pending cases, as premature commentary tends to be unduly prejudicial and speculative. Subsequently, the FBI will not be providing, at this time, any statements regarding the subjects of its investigation, identities of victims, or the purpose of today’s activity.
Preserving the integrity of our investigation, as well as the integrity of the Prosecutor’s Office is a primary concern to the FBI. We wish to keep disruptions to their operations to a minimum. Thus, we ask the public’s cooperation in recognizing that the FBI will not provide speculation about any investigation at this time.
While Kealoha’s attorney doesn’t seem concerned about the search warrant, longtime defense attorney Michael Green says this probably means that federal investigators are getting close to an indictment.
“I hate to say this, but my sense is that’s the last straw, I would guess probably before Feb. 1,” he said.
Katherine Kealoha is tied to an alleged mailbox theft case that has resulted in a corruption investigation involving the Honolulu Police Department.
Details of the alleged conspiracy were revealed last month when retired officer Niall Silva struck a plea deal with investigators.
Silva pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in what prosecutors described as a conspiracy framing Gerard Puana, Katherine Kealoha’s uncle, for mailbox theft in 2013.
Court documents say that a person, identified as co-conspirator #1, falsely claimed that her mailbox had been stolen in order to frame and discredit Puana.
While records don’t name her as Katherine Kealoha, documents say co-conspirator #1 reported the theft. In the past, Katherine Kealoha has told us that she reported the theft.
Louis Kealoha agreed to take an early retirement after receiving a target letter from the FBI. Four police officers also received target letters and have been reassigned to desk duties.
Details of Kealoha’s retirement are expected to be finalized when the Honolulu Police Commission meets on Jan. 18.
Honolulu City Council chair Ron Menor wants to meet with the police commission to discuss the chief’s retirement package.
In a letter addressed to commission chairman Max Sword, Menor says his constituents are concerned about the deal that happened behind closed doors.
Always Investigating first told you that Kealoha will retire with under half a million dollars, close to the rest of his salary through 2019, which is when his 5-year term was supposed to end.
Sword says he stands by the commission’s decision to hold a closed-door meeting regarding the chief’s retirement, citing “personnel matters.”
A spokesman for Menor decided to hold off on comment, calling the recent developments a “fluid situation.”