Jury trial for 3 ex-Honolulu officials in chief payout case

HONOLULU — Three indicted former Honolulu officials will be tried by a jury on allegations they conspired to hide the source of public funds used to get a police chief to retire during a corruption investigation.

Attorneys for the three requested a trial before a judge, but prosecutors objected.

A judge said the case will proceed with a jury trial, according to court minutes of a hearing last week.

Roy Amemiya, the city’s former managing director; Donna Leong, the city’s former top civil attorney; and Max Sword, who led the Honolulu Police Commission from 2016 to 2018, surrendered to the FBI in January.

According to an indictment, the trio arranged for ex-chief Louis Kealoha’s $250,000 payout in 2017.

They arranged to use police department funds allocated for salaries to circumvent approval from the City Council, the indictment said.

They pleaded not guilty.

Their attorneys didn’t immediately respond to an email Wednesday seeking comment on having a jury instead of a judge decide the case.

Prosecutors said the U.S. Constitution established that jury trials are preferred in criminal cases.

Kealoha and his wife Katherine Kealoha, a former Honolulu prosecutor, are in prison after a jury convicted them of conspiracy for framing a relative to keep him from revealing fraud that financed their lavish lifestyle.

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