Police chief, wife named in new lawsuit
Gerard Puana filed Wednesday a second civil complaint against his niece, city Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, the wife of Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha, naming thechief and five Honolulu police officers.
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Gerard Puana filed Wednesday a second civil complaint against his niece, city Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, the wife of Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha, naming the chief and five Honolulu police officers.
The complaint for damages alleges Puana was wrongfully arrested, incarcerated and maliciously prosecuted, and was denied his constitutional rights in two criminal cases, in 2011 and 2013.
It further alleges racketeering activity by the defendants in their individual capacities. Puana claims those defendants entered his home, seized his property, conducted surveillance, mishandled evidence, and made false reports and statements.
The complaint outlines a tangle of intertwined events involving matters from an alleged mailbox theft case, a state civil lawsuit by Puana regarding Katherine Kealoha’s alleged wrongful use of funds from a reverse mortgage on her grandmother’s house, a criminal case involving Puana, and allegations she stole cash and items from his house. It also alleges she abused her position as deputy prosecutor.
In Puana’s previous civil case, a state jury found Puana liable for $658,787 to be paid to Kealoha, who was found not guilty of using money from a reverse mortgage she arranged on the house of her grandmother, who is Puana’s mother.
This new federal lawsuit also outlines some of the same allegations in the previous state civil case, which includes that reverse mortgage.
Puana said he gave his niece $40,000 in 2007 to invest. When he asked if it could be used as down payment on a condominium, she said it was not enough.
Puana alleges she asked him to talk to her grandmother Florence Puana about the reverse mortgage, which could help him buy his condo and help the Kealohas consolidate their bills and refinance their property.
The complaint also alleges she set up a fraudulent trust document in her uncle’s name to get the reverse mortgage, and the funds were deposited into her account.
Much of this latest complaint stems from a June 27, 2011, incident in which Puana alleges Katherine Kealoha removed from his home $15,000 in cash, a cap gun, two knives and other items.
He claims his house was locked, but Kealoha “unlawfully entered the premises” with the help of defendants Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen and Daniel Sellers, who are police officers.
Puana had been arrested earlier in the day for allegedly stepping into a neighbor’s house during an argument, which led to a charge of unauthorized entry into a dwelling.
Puana alleges he was incarcerated for 72 days while Kealoha allegedly falsely represented to family members that his arrest was related to a drug problem and told them not to bail him out because she would take care of everything.
When Puana told his son to retrieve $15,000 from his home to post bail, the money was missing.
Puana alleges Kealoha used her position as deputy prosecutor to keep him incarcerated in order to meet with him to convince him to enter a drug treatment program, although he said he did not have a drug problem, and promised a favorable outcome. So he pleaded guilty Dec. 12, 2011.
Puana’s state civil case against Kealoha erupted in April 2013.
Then two months later, on June 22, 2013, Kealoha called 911 to report the couple’s mailbox was stolen, and police were sent. Kealoha identified Puana in the surveillance video of the alleged theft a week later.
Puana alleges the Kealohas lied and deliberately made misrepresentations during the mailbox investigation.
The federal complaint also alleges misconduct by HPD officers for failure to properly document events, handle evidence and prepare accurate reports, and that officers were following him.
Nguyen, Sellers, Walter Calistro, Dru Akagi and Niall Silva are named in the complaint among the police officers who mishandled evidence, falsified reports, and failed to properly investigate the mailbox case to ensure Puana would be prosecuted.
The complaint says Chief Kealoha deliberately gave perjured testimony, causing a mistrial in Puana’s mailbox theft trial. The theft case was dismissed Dec. 16, 2014.
Puana’s federal public defender said in April that a federal grand jury was investigating both Kealohas, focusing on the June 2011 incident, but no indictment has been made.
Katherine Kealoha could not be reached for comment. Louis Kealoha declined to comment.