New attorney for former chief Kealoha says he’s ready to work high-profile case

Gary Modafferi


A high-profile attorney now representing Honolulu’s former police chief in his public corruption case says he’s got his work cut out for him, and his client insists he is innocent.

Gary Modafferi filed paperwork with the court Monday, making it official. He will be representing Louis Kealoha, who, along with his deputy prosecutor wife, Katherine, is being accused of serious criminal charges.

The powerful couple was represented by Myles Breiner before Modafferi joined the picture.

Modafferi has met the Kealohas, though he says there is no “extensive” relationship.

But he’s known Breiner for 30 years, and said a case of this magnitude needs another set of eyes.

The explosive charges in the 20-count indictment against the Kealohas include conspiracy, obstruction, false statements, and bank fraud.

Breiner, according to Modafferi, needs help.

“Don’t get me wrong. Myles, in my book, is a fantastic, passionate lawyer. It doesn’t mean he’s inadequate. It just means an independent voice needs to look specifically at one client as opposed to looking at two as a union,” Modafferi said.

Once a deputy prosecutor in Honolulu, Modafferi now practices law in Nevada, but he’s kept up with the case against the Kealohas.

Louis Kealoha remains steadfast in his innocence.

“Do you feel like you’ve got a lot of work cut out for you?” KHON2 asked Modafferi.

“I do. I feel that way. That’s why I don’t want to add to all of the pretrial publicity necessarily. Take a step back and work the case,” he replied.

Modafferi is no stranger to high-profile cases. In 1988, he helped prosecute a San Diego man for the murder of Honolulu police officer Troy Barboza.

Barboza was gunned down in his home by a man he arrested.

“At that time, it seemed like the entire island gripped and riveted on how this young man died at the hands of an assassin. So now, this seems to be the high-publicity case in Hawaii, with good reason. The allegations are quite serious,” Modafferi said.

Modafferi has been a lawyer based out of Las Vegas for years, but he’s still got his Hawaii license to practice law.

If the case against the Kealohas goes to trial, he expects to be here in the islands for awhile.

Modafferi says it will be a full-time job.

“In this case, I anticipate some significant constitutional questions raised by the government. Those constitutional issues will need to be addressed in a dispassionate and comprehensive manner,” he said.

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