Kealohas waive right to jury trial and continue negotiations
A federal judge on Wednesday granted Louis and Katherine Kealoha’s request to waive their right to a jury trial on bank fraud charges as settlement negotiations continue in the corruption case.
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A federal judge on Wednesday granted Louis and Katherine Kealoha’s request to waive their right to a jury trial on
bank fraud charges as settlement negotiations continue in the corruption case.
U.S. District Chief Judge J. Michael Seabright will act as judge and jury in the trial originally scheduled to start Jan. 14 with jury selection.
Gary Singh, Katherine Kealoha’s attorney, previously told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that he filed the request because his client didn’t want the court to devote resources preparing for the January trial while serious settlement negotiations are
Katherine Kealoha, the former Honolulu deputy prosecutor who was sent to prison after being convicted in June in the first trial against the couple,
appeared in court wearing a white jumpsuit. She occasionally chatted with her husband, the former Honolulu chief of police,
at the defense table before Wednesday’s hearing.
Under questioning by Seabright, both husband and wife said they were not pressured by their spouse to give up their constitutional right to a jury trial.
The Kealohas, along with two Honolulu police officers, were found guilty by a jury in June of conspiracy and obstruction of justice for framing Katherine Kealoha’s uncle for the 2013 alleged theft of the couple’s mailbox and for lying about their actions to federal investigators.
It was the first of three trials in the Kealoha saga. In January the couple face charges of bank fraud,
aggravated identity theft and obstruction of justice linked to the alleged theft of a $167,000 inheritance of
two children for whom
Katherine Kealoha served
as financial guardian and with allegations of defrauding several financial institutions.
Katherine and her brother, Dr. Rudolph Puana, are scheduled to go on trial in May on charges connected to allegations that they trafficked in opioids and that Kealoha used her position as a deputy prosecutor to hide it.
Wednesday’s waiving of the jury trial may signal that the defendants and the government are making progress in their ongoing negotiations that aim to settle the charges for the two upcoming trials.
The pressure may be on to settle in the upcoming weeks because the terms could affect the Kealohas’ sentencing Oct. 31 on the conspiracy and obstruction convictions.
In questioning the Kealohas, Seabright told them he didn’t want to get into the reasons why they were
passing up the jury trial.
“That’s not my kuleana here. I don’t think it’s appropriate to ask you that,” he said.
Seabright urged attorneys on both sides to formally agree to as many facts as possible ahead of the bank fraud trial to help accelerate the proceeding.
All three cases arise from a comprehensive public
corruption investigation that federal authorities began in 2015 and which is continuing.