Big Island firefighter pleads guilty to conspiracy
HONOLULU (AP) — A Big Island firefighter has pleaded guilty to lying to a federal grand jury in the fraud and corruption case against the former Honolulu police chief and a deputy prosecutor.
Hawaii County Battalion Chief Jesse Michael Ebersole pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to obstruct after authorities said he lied about his relationship to Katherine Kealoha, which involved hotel stays and airline tickets funded with stolen money.
Katherine and Louis Kealoha are awaiting federal trials on bank fraud and corruption allegations.
Katherine Kealoha spent more than $20,000 on the relationship with Ebersole funded by money stolen from her grandmother and from a second mortgage she and her husband had fraudulently obtained, according to court documents.
Authorities claim Katherine Kealoha met with the firefighter before he testified in her case and “would coach Ebersole on how to falsely respond to questions posed to him in the grand jury,” according to the documents.
Ebersole had testified in April 2017 that he and Kealoha were “just friends.” In October 2017, he testified that he did not have a romantic relationship with her and he did not know why airline tickets were in his name on Kealoha’s credit card statement.
Ebersole, 49, told a federal judge Thursday in Honolulu that he did have an intimate relationship, noting Katherine Kealoha was paying off his car loan.
“I lied to the grand jury,” Ebersole told the court.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Beste requested for the judge to sentence the firefighter in April. Prosecutors are expecting Ebersole to cooperate in the prosecution against Katherine and Louis Kealoha.
The Hawaii County Fire Department placed Ebersole on paid leave earlier this week following the federal charge.