Former Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha and his city deputy prosecutor wife Katherine Kealoha will receive court-appointed attorneys in their public corruption case as early as next week, a federal judge ruled today after discussing the couple’s financial situation with them in private.
Hawaii Chief District Judge J. Michael Seabright closed his court room for about 20 minutes today — and even excluded the U.S. attorneys prosecuting the power couple — to go over the Kealohas’ financial disclosures that they filed this morning.
After reopening his court room, Seabright said he will assign the Kealohas new attorneys from a pre-approved list of Hawaii attorneys who would be paid at court rates.
Seabright said he hopes to have attorneys appointed by “Monday or Tuesday next week.”
The judge was presented with separate motions to remove the Kealohas’ attorneys — one from the three attorneys themselves and the other from U.S. attorneys to remove two of them because of alleged conflicts of interest.
The Kealohas’ attorneys wrote in a court filing that the Kealohas are financially unable to pay for their defense. The costs include undisclosed monthly payments on their $1.24 million Hawaii Kai home, including a mortgage, a home equity loan and another mortgage to one of their attorneys for up to $700,000 worth of attorney fees.
“It’s clear their debt exceeds their assets,” Seabright said. “It’s clear there isn’t cash available to pay for counsel.”
On Wednesday, the Kealohas’ attorneys told Seabright that the couple are living only on Louis Kealoha’s pension and have a daughter in college.
Myles Breiner has been handling Katherine Kealoha’s case while Gary Modafferi was recently retained by Louis Kealoha to fight the criminal charges against him. Kevin Sumida has been handling the civil cases involving the Kealohas.
The Kealohas, along with four current and former members of the Honolulu Police Department’s Criminal Intelligence Unit, were charged in U.S. District Court last month with conspiring to frame Katherine Kealoha’s uncle, Gerard Puana, for the theft of the mailbox from the couple’s home, and then covering it up.
The Kealohas, additionally, are accused of defrauding individuals and financial institutions of more than $1 million by, among other things, fabricating documents, misrepresenting facts, forging signatures, using aliases and stealing a police officer’s identity.