After she was called “a walking crime spree,” a federal judge today ordered former city deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha immediately into custody until her October sentencing on Thursday’s conspiracy and corruption conviction.
Kealoha appeared without her husband and co-defendant, former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha. She left court through a side door escorted by federal law enforcement.
Both Kealohas were convicted of federal conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges Thursday.
During a hearing this morning, U.S. District Court Chief Judge J. Michael Seabright said that Katherine Kealoha poses little flight risk.
“I don’t think Ms. Kealoha will flee, not for long anyway,” Seabright said. “I’m not concerned about flight risk. … But I am concerned about obstructive behavior.”
“I have no doubt about Ms. Kealoha’s attempt to obstruct justice,” Seabright said. “She made a determined and consistent effort to have an innocent man incarcerated.”
After she was indicted, prosecutors said today that Kealoha reached out to a friend to insist that the fictional notary public she created called Alison Lee Wong actually existed.
The friend then contacted the FBI because she worried “she was being tampered with,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Wheat told Seabright.
As he argued for sending her to jail while she awaits sentencing, Wheat called Katherine Kealoha a “walking crime spree.”
In a court filing, Wheat and his prosecution team wrote that “Kealoha used her extensive power as a lawyer and deputy prosecutor to frame her uncle with a crime he did not commit. True to her word, she attacked Gerard Puana with the ‘highest form’ of legal retribution imaginable: false arrest and false imprisonment. She did so through an endless web of lies and deceit. As the evidence at trial proved, Kealoha lies as easily as she draws breath. Those lies range from the simple to the highly complex. And those lies prove Kealoha will do anything and everything to avoid the consequences for her unlawful behavior. Frame her uncle. Falsely claim her grandmother was incompetent. Attack the Ethics Commission.”
Before ruling, Seabright said, “there is a serious risk she will attempt to obstruct justice.”
Outside court, one of Kealoha’s attorneys, Earle Partington, was asked if Katherine had been expecting to be taken into custody.
“I think so,” Partington replied.
Asked about her mood following Thursday’s conviction, Partington said, “she seemed all right. Obviously not happy.”
Partington said having a client in jail makes it harder to mount a defense because “it’s difficult to meet with a client when they’re in custody.”
Of the four defendants who were convicted Thursday — including HPD officers Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen and Lt. Derek Wayne Hahn — federal prosecutors only asked that Katherine Kealoha, 48, be taken into custody.
Only one of the five defendants —retired HPD Maj. Gordon Shiraishi — was acquitted of all charges, including conspiracy, attempting to obstruct an official proceeding and of making a false statement. Shiraishi was also seen outside federal court this morning.
Katherine Kealoha’s sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 7, followed by Louis Kealoha on Oct. 15, Hahn on Oct. 21 and Nguyen on Oct. 28.
The Kealohas face a second trial on Oct. 21 on charges of bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and obstruction of justice in connection with the alleged theft of a $167,000 inheritance of two children for whom Katherine Kealoha served as financial guardian.
Kealoha also faces charges related to allegations that she and her brother, Rudolph Puana, trafficked in opioids and that Kealoha used her position as a deputy prosecutor to hide it.