Former police chief Louis Kealoha will soon have a new attorney defending him against charges of conspiracy, bank fraud and deception of government investigators.
Myles Breiner, who had previously represented Kealoha and his wife, Katherine, filed paperwork in U.S. District Court on Friday saying he was withdrawing as the former chief’s attorney in the ongoing criminal matter to make way for Gary Modafferi.
Breiner will continue to represent Katherine Kealoha, who is a city prosecutor.
Modafferi currently works as a criminal defense lawyer in Las Vegas, but he has a long history in Hawaii, including an arrest and conviction on drug-related charges.
Modafferi started his law career on the islands in 1983 when he was recruited by then-Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Charles Marsland. At the time, Modafferi was one of the youngest prosecutors in the office. He quickly rose to the head of the narcotics unit.
Modafferi lost his job in 1994 after Keith Kaneshiro became the city’s top prosecutor. He then went into private practice as a criminal defense lawyer.
But in 1997 Modafferi, the former prosecutor, was arrested for distributing methamphetamine from his Honolulu apartment. He pleaded guilty to federal charges and was sentenced to three months in prison. He also lost his ability to practice law here.
In 2010, however, Modafferi, who had spoken openly about his drug arrest and conviction, was reinstated to the Hawaii State Bar. While he’s currently based in Las Vegas, he has come back to the islands for work, including his recent representation of Taryn Christian, who was convicted of murder in 1997.
Modafferi has been trying to get that conviction overturned for at least the past two years, saying that the case was plagued by poor police work and prosecutorial misconduct.
He declined to be interviewed Friday on his plans to represent Kealoha. Breiner did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Breiner also filed paperwork in court Friday asking federal prosecutors to turn over evidence they have implicating his client in wrongdoing, including any wiretapping and surveillance records and lists of informants who might be called as witnesses.