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Jury awards more than $658K to police chief’s wife

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    Defendant Katherine Kealoha, center, was awarded more than $658,000 after a jury ruled in her favor in a suit brought against her by Florence and Gerard Puana. The civil suit pitted the Puanas and Kealoha over a money derived from a reverse mortgage on Florence Puana's home.
    Florence Puana, left, and Gerard Puana in court on Thursday afternoon following the verdict in a suit against Katherine Kealoha.

A jury is siding with the Honolulu police chief’s wife in a financial dispute that pitted her against her 95-year-old grandmother and uncle, awarding Katherine Kealoha $658,787 in damages.

The jury reached its verdict Thursday in a civil lawsuit accusing Chief Louis Kealoha’s wife, Katherine Kealoha, of stealing money from her grandmother and uncle.

Florence and Gerard Puana took Katherine Kealoha to court over money they say she stole from a reverse mortgage on the grandmother’s home. The lawsuit also accused her of taking money her uncle said he gave her to invest and for safekeeping.

Allegations of police misconduct were raised in a separate criminal case against Gerard Puana, who was accused of stealing the Kealohas’ mailbox. The case was dropped after testimony from the chief about Gerard Puana’s criminal past caused a mistrial.

The jury awarded Kealoha $248,787 in attorney fees it cost to defend her against the Puanas’ claims and $210,000 in punitive damages against the uncle. Jurors also awarded Kealoha $200,000 for the mental anguish the Puanas put her through.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said Katherine Kealoha was awarded $478,787. Her award for mental anguish was $200,000 and not $20,000.

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