- Associated Press - Monday, December 22, 2014

HONOLULU (AP) - Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell backed up the police commission’s decision not to rush to investigate allegations of police misconduct raised in a case over the chief’s stolen mailbox.

Chairman Ron Taketa said last week that the commission will wait to see if the FBI investigates before looking into the allegations. The FBI said it received a referral to investigate, but it’s not known if the agency will do so.

The allegations arose in a federal trial of a man accused of stealing Chief Louis Kealoha’s home mailbox. Kealoha’s testimony led to a mistrial in the case because he made comments about the criminal past of the defendant, Gerard Puana, who is his wife’s uncle. Charges were dismissed last week.

“I do believe that the commission is properly reviewing the situation, and if facts surface that warrant an investigation, I fully expect the commission to deal with it appropriately and expediently,” Caldwell told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in an email (http://ow.ly/GiDtv ).

Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro said his office would prosecute any officer if there is evidence of a crime. But he said there have only been “wild allegations” raised in the mailbox case.

“We look at evidence of criminal conduct. We don’t look at allegations,” Kaneshiro said.

Puana’s federal public defender, Alexander Silvert, has said his investigation in the case revealed misconduct and that Kealoha and his wife framed Puana to discredit him in a lawsuit. Puana and his 95-year-old mother are suing Kealoha’s wife, Katherine, accusing her of stealing money from them. She denies the allegations lodged by her uncle and grandmother.

Silvert said he will be meeting with the FBI in January to discuss the case.

Others are questioning whether the commission is adequately monitoring the department.

The commission’s lack of an investigation into the mailbox allegations is troubling, said Meda Chesney-Lind, a criminologist who chairs the Women’s Studies Program at the University of Hawaii.

“You’ve got a police commission that’s sort of toothless and not particularly credible and appears to be largely a cheering squad for the police department,” she said. “It’s not a good situation.”

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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