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Honolulu officers plead not guilty in corruption case

Updated: 
November 2, 2017 - 10:37am

HONOLULU — A Honolulu police lieutenant, an officer and a retired major pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges alleging they helped former Chief Louis Kealoha and his deputy prosecutor wife frame a man.

Officer Minh Hung “Bobby” Nguyen and Lt. Derek Hahn are charged with conspiracy, obstruction and lying to a federal officer. Retired Maj. Gordon Shiraishi is charged with obstruction.

U.S. prosecutors allege the defendants helped frame a relative of the Kealohas with the theft of their mailbox to discredit him in a financial dispute. They were members of the department’s Criminal Intelligence Unit.

The Kealohas and the officers in the unit staged the mailbox theft, edited surveillance video and falsely identified Katherine Kealoha’s uncle as the suspect, prosecutors said. In framing the uncle, they also allegedly falsified police reports, planted evidence and lied to investigators.

The Kealohas have previously pleaded not guilty. Katherine Kealoha is also accused of bilking thousands of dollars from banks, her uncle, her 98-year-old grandmother and two children whose trusts she oversaw. Prosecutors say the couple spent the money on their lavish lifestyle — expenses such as luxury car payments, Elton John concert tickets and a trip to Disneyland.

After Tuesday’s arraignment, Nguyen’s attorney Randall Hironaka asked to speak behind closed doors about undescribed personal information.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Puglisi closed the hearing to the public.

Reporters tried to object to the closure but court officials said the proceeding could not be interrupted.

Trial is scheduled for December.

Louis Kealoha agreed to retire amid the investigation. On Wednesday, Susan Ballard was sworn-in as the department’s 11th chief and first woman chief.

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