Ex-Hawaii prosecutor, police chief get jail for corruption

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In this March 12, 2019, file photo, retired Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, former deputy city prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, hold hands while walking to U.S. district court in Honolulu. A once-respected, now-estranged power couple are scheduled to be sentenced Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, in Hawaii's biggest corruption case. A jury convicted Katherine and Louis Kealoha of conspiracy in a plot to frame her uncle to keep him from revealing fraud that financed their fancy lives. (AP Photo/Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, File)


A U.S. decide sentenced a former high-ranking Honolulu prosecutor to 13 years in jail Monday and her retired police chief husband to seven years, saying she stole cash from her personal grandmother after which used his regulation enforcement energy to border her uncle for a crime he didn’t commit — all to take care of the couple’s lavish way of life.

Katherine and Louis Kealoha, now estranged, had been as soon as a revered energy couple. Louis Kealoha agreed to retire amid a wide-ranging federal investigation. She later gave up her regulation license.

“This case has staggered the group in some ways,” U.S. District Choose J. Michael Seabright mentioned.

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He described how Katherine Kealoha orchestrated a reverse mortgage scheme that pressured her grandmother to promote her residence, framed her uncle for stealing the Kealohas’ residence mailbox, stole cash from kids whose trusts she managed as a lawyer, cheated her uncle out of his life financial savings, satisfied her firefighter lover to lie about their affair and used her place as a prosecutor to show a drug investigation away from her physician brother.

“Fact may be stranger than fiction,” the decide mentioned at Katherine Kealoha’s sentencing.

Later, he instructed Louis Kealoha that whereas his spouse was the mastermind, “you probably did grasp the body job that adopted,” and the scheme could not have succeeded with out the Honolulu Police Division.

A jury convicted the Kealohas final 12 months of conspiracy, together with two former officers who’re scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday.

The case is very stunning, Seabright mentioned, due to the function a police chief of a “main American metropolis,” performed.

“Take into consideration that, the chief of police of one of many largest police departments within the nation … swears to inform the reality, the entire reality and nothing however the reality,” and lies, the decide mentioned of Louis Kealoha’s false testimony on the trial of his spouse’s uncle for stealing the couple’s mailbox. The trial resulted in a mistrial that prosecutors say the then-chief brought about on function to thwart the investigation.

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The Kealohas later pleaded responsible to financial institution fraud, saying they offered false data to acquire loans.

They went to nice lengths to take care of a way of life they could not afford on public servant salaries, the decide mentioned.

Katherine Kealoha, 51, additionally pleaded responsible to an identification theft cost, saying she received an officer to forge a police report she used to clarify unfavourable data on a credit score report. She additionally pleaded responsible to a cost that concerned defending her brother from the drug investigation.

In this March 12, 2019, file photo, retired Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, former deputy city prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, hold hands while walking to U.S. district court in Honolulu. A once-respected, now-estranged power couple are scheduled to be sentenced Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, in Hawaii's biggest corruption case. A jury convicted Katherine and Louis Kealoha of conspiracy in a plot to frame her uncle to keep him from revealing fraud that financed their fancy lives. (AP Photo/Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, File)

On this March 12, 2019, file picture, retired Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha and his spouse, former deputy metropolis prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, maintain palms whereas strolling to U.S. district court docket in Honolulu. A once-respected, now-estranged energy couple are scheduled to be sentenced Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, in Hawaii’s greatest corruption case. A jury convicted Katherine and Louis Kealoha of conspiracy in a plot to border her uncle to maintain him from revealing fraud that financed their fancy lives. (AP Photograph/Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, File)

In a letter to the decide, she blamed a prescription drug habit for clouding her judgment.

“My shopper was on medication, her thoughts was not clear and she or he did a whole lot of unhealthy issues,” her lawyer, Gary Singh, mentioned in court docket.

Kealoha apologized to her household in court docket and requested for forgiveness. “To my uncle, particularly,” she mentioned. “I do know that he has been by way of a lot ache and a lot damage.”

Kealoha’s aunt, Charlotte Puana Malott, learn a letter she mentioned her 100-year-old mom, Florence Puana, wrote earlier than she died in February about her granddaughter’s “ruthless scheme.”

“I used to be 90 years previous in 2009 after I agreed to a reverse mortgage on my residence, probably not understanding what it meant. It appeared difficult, but I trusted you, Katherine,” the letter mentioned.

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Kealoha got here to Puana and her son Gerard Puana with an concept about taking out a reverse mortgage on her grandmother’s residence to assist purchase a condominium her uncle wished. Kealoha mentioned she would consolidate her money owed and promised her uncle and grandmother that she would repay the mortgage.

She used the cash to purchase her uncle’s condominium, however as an alternative of paying off the mortgage, she spent the leftover cash on luxuries, together with $26,000 for an induction banquet when her husband grew to become police chief and $10,000 on Mercedes-Benz and Maserati automotive funds, the decide mentioned.

“She perverted justice. And he or she did so for her personal private causes,” mentioned Michael Wheat, a particular federal prosecutor. “To facilitate a way of life and a facade and a picture on this group.”

Framing her uncle for stealing the Kealohas’ mailbox was to make him much less credible within the household monetary dispute, the decide mentioned.

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“We nonetheless do not know sitting right here at present, who stole the mailbox,” Seabright mentioned, including that it clearly wasn’t Gerard Puana.

He instructed Katherine Kealoha that she used the police “to do your soiled work.”

Louis Kealoha, 60, filed for divorce after they had been convicted.

He mentioned at his sentencing that he is deeply sorry, ashamed and didn’t dwell as much as the requirements of a police chief. “That is the final place in my life I believed I’d be and I vow by no means to be right here once more,” he mentioned.

Partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Seabright agreed to permit Kealoha to stay free on bond till he self-surrenders in April. His spouse has been within the Honolulu Federal Detention Heart since they had been convicted.

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Monday’s sentencings come after a number of postponements. Concern in regards to the unfold of the coronavirus brought about a delay in March, then a Nov. three date was modified after officers realized it was Election Day.

“COVID has saved us from this date for fairly some time,” the decide mentioned.



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