Electrician’s speeding ticket zapped after working for Kealohas
A 31-year-old Niu Valley man says city Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha had his speeding ticket dismissed after he did some electrical work for her and her husband, former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha.
Adam Wong told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, “I did something for her. I just asked her to do something for me.”
A federal grand jury indicted the Kealohas and four former members of the Honolulu Police Department’s elite Criminal Intelligence Unit last month on federal charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, lying to investigators, bank fraud and identity theft. The electrician said he testified in front of the grand jury that indicted the Kealohas.
“I didn’t know it was going to turn into this,” Wong said. “I’m so upset that I got caught up in this.”
So far no one has been charged with any crimes in connection with Wong’s dismissed ticket. Federal prosecutors, however, have referred to the case in open court.
Colin McDonald, a special attorney for the Justice Department, told U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Puglisi at the Kealohas’ arraignment Oct. 20 that Katherine Kealoha made false statements in state court in 2014 to get a case dismissed against someone with whom she and a law enforcement officer had a potential business relationship. McDonald did not name the law enforcement officer or defendant or say what kind of case was dismissed. McDonald also told Puglisi that Kealoha contacted the defendant in January 2016 and told him that the dismissal was a mistake. Then in May 2016 Kealoha allegedly met with the defendant at her office to lay out a false narrative about the case.
Wong said it was his ticket for excessive speeding that was dismissed and confirmed McDonald’s account of what happened. A Honolulu police officer ticketed Wong on Aug. 12, 2014, for driving 78 mph on Likelike Highway just outside the Honolulu end of the Wilson Tunnel where the speed limit is 35 mph. Among the potential penalties for excessive speeding is a jail term of between two and five days for a first offense and between 10 and 30 days for a third offense within five years.
Wong was not present for his arraignment in Honolulu District Court on Sept. 10,
2014. Kealoha was. She asked Honolulu District Judge Michael Tanigawa to dismiss the case.
“I know it’s a speeding offense, but the individual who was driving the car at the time is a career criminal who was not the individual that he gave the identification for,” Kealoha said. She told Tanigawa her office intended to refile the charge against the actual driver in state Circuit Court. At that time and up until she was placed on leave without pay last month following her indictment, Kealoha was head of the prosecutor’s office career criminal unit. Tanigawa dismissed the case.
Wong said he was driving the pickup truck that the officer stopped for speeding. He declined to say what false narrative Kealoha recited for him.
As rumors of the dismissed ticket swirled, Kealoha’s boss, Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, told Hawaii News Now in October 2016 that he approved a plea agreement to have the speeding ticket dismissed. A prosecutor spokesman later said the speeding ticket was dismissed as part of a cooperation agreement for information in an ongoing criminal investigation. Kaneshiro told Civil Beat that his office was investigating whether police officers were writing fake or “ghost tickets” in order to collect overtime when they have to show up in court to testify.
After Hawaii News Now and Civil Beat aired and published his comments, Kaneshiro applied for and won approval to convene a state special secret investigative grand jury in November 2016. By that time he had already appeared multiple times before the federal grand jury that indicted the Kealohas and had criticized the effort as a fishing expedition.
Kaneshiro’s office refused to respond to requests for comment about the special grand jury. According to state court records, the special grand jury met eight times, the last time on April 10. Wong said he was called to testify in front of the state grand jury.
Despite Kaneshiro’s comments about his office’s investigation of ghost ticket writing, the officer who ticketed Wong was “not a suspect in any criminal investigation,” Kaneshiro’s office said in April.
That statement came in response to a query from a lawyer representing a motorist ticketed for excessive speeding by the same officer in January. The lawyer had asked for records of any prosecutions, disciplinary actions or investigations of the officer.
Myles Breiner had been the Kealohas’ criminal defense lawyer up until his withdrawal from the case last week. He did not respond to requests for comment. Katherine Kealoha’s court-appointed lawyer, Cynthia Kagiwada, did not respond to requests for comment.