Ex-sergeant says vendetta led to DUI case against him

HONOLULU — A former Honolulu police sergeant says an ex-prosecutor brought a drunken-driving case against him because she had a vendetta against him, his defense attorney said in court documents.

Albert Lee was a sergeant when he allegedly crashed into a Hawaiian Electric vault in 2016 while off duty and driving drunk. He then allegedly lied that he wasn’t behind the wheel.

Lee’s defense attorney, Megan Kau, said in a court filing last week she is seeking documents from the prosecuting attorney’s office to prove former high-ranking deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha retaliated against him for arresting a nightclub owner despite her instructions to leave him alone.

A federal indictment on corruption-related charges accuses Kealoha and her retired police chief husband of using police resources and abusing their power to frame a relative in an attempt to stop him from uncovering their financial schemes. They are due to go to trial next month.

Kealoha’s attorney couldn’t be reached for comment.

Lee initially wasn’t suspected of a crime and was released without any charges. A few days later, the responding officers changed their reports and Kealoha started an investigation, Kau’s filing said, resulting in charges a year later against Lee for driving under the influence and false reporting to law enforcement.

“Now that he has been charged, he should be given every opportunity to prove the major corruption between Katherine Kealoha, a high ranking supervisor at the Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office with a vendetta against Sgt. Lee, and Louis Kealoha, her husband and (at the relevant time) the chief of police for the Honolulu Police Department,” Kau wrote in the document.

The vendetta stems from an officer stopping Michael Miske, a nightclub owner, for using his cellphone while driving in 2015. Mike sped off and later called the officer offering to work it out, Kau said. The officer informed his supervisor, Lee.

After Miske didn’t call the officer back, Lee went to the club but wasn’t able to find him. After Lee’s 4:30 a.m. visit, Miske called the officer and “threatened that he could go to the ‘top of the food chain,’ “ Kau said.

Katherine Kealoha, who at the time was head of the career criminal division, later called the officer and told him to leave Miske alone because he was assisting prosecutors with another case, Kau said.

Kau said she will request documents and files from the prosecutor’s office that show where Miske assisted in any investigation.

An attorney representing Miske didn’t return a message seeking comment.

“Because of the unusual and suspicious circumstances presented Sgt. Lee decided to pursue his own investigation,” Kau’s filing said. Lee tracked Miske down at his home and working with the FBI and other federal agents, Lee arrested him for failing to obey an officer’s command.

The police department later filed a complaint against Lee for allegedly acting unethically and impartially while arresting Miske. Lee received a notice of disciplinary action for failing to submit an overtime card, Kau said.

The Honolulu prosecutor’s officer recused itself from Lee’s case in February. It is now being handled by Kauai prosecutors. The next hearing in Lee’s case is scheduled for May.