- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 18, 2017

HONOLULU (AP) - The Honolulu Police Commission agreed to a $250,000 settlement package for retirement with Police Chief Louis Kealoha, the target of a federal investigation involving allegations of civil rights abuses and corruption.

The settlement announced Wednesday night includes an agreement that Kealoha would have to repay the money if he is convicted of a felony, local news reports said.

The officer’s retirement is effective March 1, and he will be on leave with pay until then.

“The (Honolulu Police Department) has been under a dark cloud for the last two years because of the investigation,” Hawaii News Now quoted commission chairman Max Sword as saying. “The retirement agreement allows the department to move forward under new leadership and allow HPD to focus on service in the community.”

Hawaii News Now reported that the money will be paid to Kealoha in addition to a pension of about $150,000 a year and free medical care for life.

Earlier this month, Sword announced that Kealoha agreed to retire after being on paid leave since receiving an FBI target letter last month.

A grand jury is looking into the allegations of civil rights abuses and corruption at the department.

The investigation began more than a year ago after allegations surfaced that Kealoha and his deputy city prosecutor wife, Katherine Kealoha, framed her uncle for the theft of the Kealoha’s home mailbox to discredit him in a family financial dispute. Attorneys for the couple say they haven’t done anything wrong.

A retired officer involved in the mailbox case has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and four other officers have received target letters from the FBI.

In a shocking development Friday, FBI agents raided the Honolulu prosecuting attorney’s office.

The raid was unfathomable, Commissioner Loretta Sheehan said Tuesday.

“A federal judge was persuaded that Katherine Kealoha’s laptops probably contain evidence of criminal activity and that seizure was necessary to obtain evidence or make sure it wasn’t destroyed,” Sheehan said.

State Sen. Will Espero is among those who had called on commissioners not to give Kealoha anything more than the pension he earned.

Espero said prior to Wednesday night’s agreement that the commission could also let Kealoha remain on leave until the investigation is resolved.

“However, the Police Commission has been silent on this matter for over 16 months and to act so quickly at this point in time does not seem to be in the best interest of the city and County of Honolulu,” he wrote in a letter to the commission.

Espero has also urged the commission to be more transparent about Kealoha’s situation and to be more welcoming to members of the public who may want to speak about the issue.

On Wednesday, the room where commissioners meet was configured differently to add more seating space. However, only one person commented during the public testimony portion.

“From a personal perspective … he’s more than just my chief,” Sgt. Tenari Maafala, president of Hawaii’s police union, told the panel about Kealoha. “He’s a brother in blue.”

“I shared my heart with him and let him know that for selfish reasons I really hate to see him leave,” Maafala said, adding that Kealoha is doing what’s honorable for himself, his family and the department.

___

AP writer Bob Seavey in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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