Ex-prosecutor locked up after guilty verdict in Hawaii – Prosecutor: ‘This defendant is a walking crime-spree’

Former Honolulu deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha walks into federal court for a hearing to decide if she should be held while awaiting sentencing on conspiracy charges, Friday, June 28, 2019 in Honolulu. U.S. attorneys want Kealoha locked up now that jurors have found her guilty of conspiracy in a plot to frame a relative. Kealoha and her now-retired police chief husband Louis Kealoha were convicted Thursday. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)

By JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER,  Associated Press HONOLULU (AP) 06/28 — Two U.S. marshals led a former Honolulu prosecutor out of a courtroom Friday when a U.S. judge ordered her detained after a jury found her guilty of conspiracy and he expressed concern that she could try to obstruct justice before being sentenced.

Katherine Kealoha left her purse with her defense attorney as the marshals approached to take her into custody after the bail hearing.

She “lies as easily as she draws breath” and will do anything to avoid consequences, prosecutors said in court documents seeking her detention.

“This defendant is a walking crime-spree,” Michael Wheat, a special federal prosecutor, told the judge in court, saying she holds sway with police and has tampered with grand jury witnesses in the past.

In this June 25, 2019 file photo, former Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha, right, his wife, former deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, center, and her attorney Earle Partington, left, walk out of federal court in Honolulu. A jury has found the former Honolulu prosecutor and her now-retired police chief husband guilty in a plot to frame a relative to silence him from revealing fraud that financed their lavish lifestyle. The verdict came Thursday, June 27, 2019, in what has been described as Hawaii’s biggest corruption case. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones, file)

 

Her lawyer said Friday that the judge should consider that the 48-year-old Kealoha had previously complied with all the conditions of her release on bond during the trial.

“That has to count for something,” defense attorney Cynthia Kagiwada said. She also said there was no showing that Kealoha had engaged in obstructive behavior.

U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright interrupted: “We heard from 12 people yesterday.” In finding Kealoha and her husband, former police chief Louis Kealoha, 58, guilty of conspiracy Thursday, the jury also determined they obstructed justice.

The jury also convicted two officers in a plot to frame Katherine Kealoha’s uncle Gerard Puana for the theft of a mailbox to discredit him in a family financial dispute.

Prosecutors said during the trial that the Kealohas were afraid the uncle would reveal fraud that enriched the couple’s lavish life. Maintaining their power and prestige was a motive for the framing, prosecutors said.

Former deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, center left, and husband, former Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha, center right, walk toward Queen Street after the verdict in their corruption case at federal court Thursday, June 27, 2019, in Honolulu. A jury has found the former Honolulu prosecutor and her now-retired police chief husband guilty in a plot to frame a relative to silence him from revealing fraud that financed their lavish lifestyle, a case that shook the top levels of law enforcement. (Cindy Ellen Russell/Honolulu Star-Advertiser via AP)

 

Prosecutors didn’t oppose allowing Louis Kealoha, police Lt. Derek Hahn and Officer Bobby Nguyen to remain free on bond. The jury acquitted retired Major Gordon Shiraishi.

Louis Kealoha didn’t attend his wife’s bail hearing. They have appeared hand-in-hand or arm-in-arm when arriving at court since their 2017 indictment and during the trial that began in May.

The conspiracy charge carries a maximum 20-year sentence but legal observers believe Katherine Kealoha could get less than 10 years behind bars.

The Kealohas face another trial on bank fraud and identity theft charges involving allegations that she bilked relatives and children whose trusts she controlled.

Prosecutors say Katherine Kealoha stole from her now-99-year-old grandmother in a reverse mortgage scheme that forced her grandmother to sell her family home. They say Kealoha spent the money on Maserati and Mercedes-Benz car payments, a banquet when her husband became police chief and Elton John concert tickets.

Prosecutors say some was lavished on her firefighter lover.

Katherine Kealoha also faces a third trial on a separate indictment accusing her and her pain physician brother of drug dealing. She used her position as a prosecutor to cover up their crimes and protect her brother, the indictment said.

In this June 25, 2019 file photo, former Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha, right, and his wife former deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, walk out of federal court in Honolulu. A jury has found the former Honolulu prosecutor and her now-retired police chief husband guilty in a plot to frame a relative to silence him from revealing fraud that financed their lavish lifestyle. The verdict came Thursday, June 27, 2019, in what has been described as Hawaii’s biggest corruption case. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones, file)

 

During the trial, prosecutors portrayed Katherine Kealoha as the ringleader of the conspiracy. She invented an alias, Alison Lee Wong, to forge documents, and tried to have her grandmother declared incompetent to silence her, prosecutors told the jury.

Jurors watched a deposition from Puana’s mother, Florence Puana, who was unable to testify in court because of her failing health.

Gerard Puana testified that Katherine Kealoha came to them with an idea about taking out a reverse mortgage on her grandmother’s home to help buy a condo her uncle wanted. Kealoha said she would consolidate her debts — which prosecutors described as massive — and promised her uncle and grandmother that she would pay off the loan.

Wheat noted that Kealoha tampered with potential witnesses, including sending letters trying to convince them Alison Lee Wong is a real person.

“Well, it’s pretty clear who Alison Lee Wong is,” Seabright said. “It’s Katherine Kealoha.”

Kealoha had an innocent man incarcerated and tried to silence her grandmother “after engaging in an outright theft of their money,” Seabright said.

“To be clear, it was her own grandmother she did this to,” he said.

She also got her firefighter boyfriend to lie about their affair to a grand jury and convinced the man whose childhood trust she controlled that his mother would go to jail if he didn’t lie and say Kealoha gave him his money, Seabright said.

Attempting to obstruct justice is “Ms. Kealoha’s bread and butter,” Seabright said.

Kenneth Lawson, who teaches criminal law at the University of Hawaii’s law school, attended her bail hearing and said he knows how humiliating it is to be detained. He said he was sentenced to two years in federal prison for fraudulently obtaining prescriptions to feed an opioid addiction.

Kealoha will “adapt” at the Honolulu Federal Detention Center, he said, adding that like he did, she will be able to trade her legal expertise for “food and candy.”

https://www.apnews.com/c340c3811d984ce5895a977ca22b63e4

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in: Conspiracy, Convictions, Courts & Trials, Crime & Criminals, Official Corruption, Prosecutors, Verdicts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

19 − six =

Terms of Use for Posting Comments

Terms of Use

This site (the “Site”) is operated and maintained by Law Enforcement Education Foundation, Corporation (“Company”). Throughout the Site, the terms “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Company.  The words “user,” “you” and “your” as used herein refer to you.

Please read these terms and conditions of use (“Terms of Use”) carefully before contributing content. If you do not agree to these Terms of Use, please do not contribute content. Your use of the Site is subject to the Terms and Conditions found here .

By contributing content to the Site, you represent and warrant that you are at least eighteen (18) years old and that you have read and understand these Terms of Use and any amendments thereto and agree to be bound by them. If you are not at least eighteen (18) years old or you do not agree and accept these Terms of Use, you are prohibited from contributing content.

From time to time, we may permit users to submit content to the Site.  You hereby acknowledge and agree that by submitting remarks, comments, suggestions, ideas, graphics, feedback, edits, concepts, comments, photographs, illustrations and other materials (other than personal information and/or registration information) through the Site (individually and collectively, “Submissions”), you (i) grant us a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable and fully sub-licensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, distribute, publish, create derivative works from and publicly display and perform such Submissions throughout the world in any media, now known or hereafter created, without attribution to you; (ii) grant us the right to pursue at law any person or entity that violates your and/or our rights in your Submissions; and (iii) forever waive any and all of your rights, including but not limited to moral rights, if any, in and to your Submissions, including, without limitation, any all rights or requirements of attribution or identification of you as the author of the Submission or any derivative thereof.  We reserve the right to remove any of your Submissions from the Site, in whole or in part, without notice to you, for any reason or no reason.

Submissions are made voluntarily. Any submissions which include personally identifiable information are subject to our Privacy Policy found here .  You may not upload or otherwise publish content on the Site that (i) is confidential to you or any third party; (ii) is untrue, inaccurate, false or other than an original work of your authorship; (iii) that relates to or impersonates any other person; (iv) violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property rights of any person or entity; (v) contains any content, personally identifiable information or other information, or materials of any kind that relate or refer to any other person or entity other than the provider of the products, goods or services to which the Submission relates; or (vi) violates any law, or in any manner infringes or interferes with the rights of others, including but not limited to the use of names, information, or materials that (A) libel, defame, or invade the privacy of any third party, (B) are obscene or pornographic, (C) are harmful, threatening, offensive, abusive, harassing, vulgar, false or inaccurate, racially, sexually, ethnically or are otherwise objectionable or otherwise contrary to the laws of any place where such Submissions may be accessed; (D) constitute personal attacks on other individuals; (E) promote criminal, immoral or illegal activity; (F) promote or advertise any person, product or service or solicit funds; or (G) are deemed confidential by any contract or policy.

You are solely responsible for any Submissions you make and their accuracy. We take no responsibility and assume no liability for any Submissions posted by you or any third party.

Unless approved by us in writing in advance, you agree not to: (i) provide or create a link to the Site; or (ii) create any frames at any other sites pertaining to any of the content located on the Site.

We reserve the right, in our discretion, to update, change or replace any part of these Terms of Use for Posting Comments by posting updates and/or changes to our Site.  It is your responsibility to check this page periodically for changes.  Your continued use of, and/or access to the Site, following the posting of any changes to these Terms of Use for Posting Comments, constitutes your acceptance of those changes.