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Investigator appointed for police chief’s grandmother-in-law


HONOLULU (AP) — An independent investigator has been appointed to determine whether the 95-year-old grandmother of the Honolulu police chief’s wife needs a conservator.

A court hearing on Katherine Kealoha’s request to have a conservator appointed to act on behalf of her grandmother was postponed Thursday. The grandmother, Florence Puana, accuses Kealoha in a lawsuit of stealing money.

Kealoha, the wife of Police Chief Louis Kealoha, sought conservatorship for her grandmother before the trial over the lawsuit got underway.

Attorney Richard Diehl, the investigator appointed by the judge to evaluate the situation, said he needs more time to get up to speed. The hearing was postponed until March.

The judge appointed Diehl to evaluate Katherine Kealoha’s petition and determine whether Puana needs a conservator, Diehl said.

“The threshold question is, is she incapacitated as defined in the statute,” he said.

Diehl said he plans to interview Puana in her home, talk to her physician and may watch her testify in the civil trial, which is expected to happen next week. After that, he could make a recommendation to the judge, he said.

Meanwhile, Katherine Kealoha returned to the witness stand Thursday in the trial that pits her on the opposing side of a courtroom from her grandmother. Puana accuses Kealoha of stealing money from a reverse mortgage on Puana’s home. Kealoha continued to deny Thursday that she stole money in a joint account she shared with her grandmother, which contained funds from the reverse mortgage.

The case has led to allegations of police department misconduct after the chief gave improper testimony at a federal criminal trial against Gerard Puana, who is Florence Puana’s son and Katherine Kealoha’s uncle. He was accused of stealing the Kealohas’ home mailbox. After the chief’s testimony caused a mistrial, the case was dropped. Gerard Puana’s public defender, Alexander Silvert, said his client was framed to discredit him in the civil case. Gerard Puana is also a plaintiff in his mother’s lawsuit.

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