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House Judiciary chairman, police chief's wife joining Prosecutor's Office

By Gregg K. Kakesako

LAST UPDATED: 2:21 p.m. HST, Oct 21, 2010

State House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jon Riki Karamatsu and the wife of Honolulu's police chief are among three new deputies appointed by city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro to his staff.

Karamatsu will serve as legislative liaison for the Honolulu Department of the Prosecuting Attorney. Kaneshiro said, "Jon Karamatsu's experience at the Legislature and as chair of the Judiciary Committee will make him an invaluable member of our team as we advocate for tougher laws and key public safety initiatives in the coming session."

Kaneshiro is also appointing Katherine Puana Kealoha, the director of the State of Hawaii Office of Environmental Quality Control. Kealoha is a former deputy prosecutor and the wife of Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha.

Dean Young, also a former deputy prosecutor, who represents the Honolulu Liquor Commission in his private practice, is the third appointment announced today. 

All three will join the office next month.

Karamatsu, who lost the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor last month, represented the 41st District (Waipahu-Village Park-Waikele) since 2002. He served as majority whip from 2004 to 2006 and again in 2008, vice speaker of the House from 2006 to 2008, and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee from 2008 to 2010. He graduated from Gonzaga University School of Law in 2000. 

In October 2007, Karamatsu pleaded no contest to drunken driving when he crashed his car on Moanalua Freeway and his blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.

He was sentenced to community service but avoided the two days in jail that prosecutors had recommended. Karamatsu acknowledged his mistake and apologized to the public.

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