Guilty Verdict Returned in Corruption Trial of Former Honolulu Police Chief and Prosecutor Wife

Former Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha, right, and his wife, former deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, walk out of federal court in Honolulu June 25, 2019. A jury has found the former Honolulu prosecutor and her now-retired police chief husband guilty in a plot to frame a relative. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)

HONOLULU (CN) – Jurors returned a guilty verdict Thursday in a federal corruption trial of former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, former deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, stemming from their attempt to frame a family member with theft. 

After deliberating for a day, the jury convicted the Kealohas and two former police officers on conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges relating to the Kealoha’s attempt to frame Katherine’s uncle, Gerald Puana, with theft of a mailbox amidst a family dispute over money.

During the trial, prosecutors outlined how Katherine Kealohas took control of her grandmother’s finances and syphoned some $150,000 meant to pay for her uncle’s condominium. 

“An innocent man was framed and went to jail for doing nothing more than trying to speak up,” Puana’s attorney Ali Silvert said. “We’re all very surprised the jury reached a verdict this quickly. This really sends a strong message to law enforcement.”

In a statement the Puana family said that the “years of humiliation, heartache, tears and sorrow inflicted on Florence, Gerard and our family won’t be assuaged or erased.”

The Kealohas emerged onto the courthouse steps expressionless, late Thursday afternoon, amid a throng of reporters. 

“It’s still a lot to take in,” Louis Kealoha said. “I want to thank everybody, especially the community for continued their love and support. Thank you. That is all I have to say”

On Friday, U.S. District Chief Judge Michael Seabright held a bond hearing for Katherine Kealoha at the request of the prosecution, pending her October sentencing. 

Seabright ordered Katherine Kealoha to be taken into custody at the hearing one day after her guilty conviction.

“I’m not concerned about flight risk, but about her obstructive behavior,” Seabright said.

At the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Wheat referred to Kealoha as a “walking crime spree.”

Kealoha appeared in court without her husband and will remain incarcerated pending sentencing. The Kealohas face a second trial on charges of bank fraud on Oct. 21.

She faces up to 20 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.

The Kealohas face another trial for bank fraud, and Katherine Kealoha faces a third trial for her alleged role in a drug distribution ring.

Some 70 people took the stand in the thirteen day trial, the largest in Hawaii history.

A federal investigation has also targeted County Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro and Corporation Counsel Donna Leong for prosecution of additional crimes.

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