A former high-ranking Honolulu prosecutor was sentenced to 13 years this week after police say she stole money from her grandmother, and also tried to use her position to frame her uncle for a crime he didn’t commit, among many other things.
U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright described how Katherine Kealoha, 51, orchestrated a reverse mortgage scheme that forced her grandmother to sell her home, framed her uncle and alleged that he stole her and her husband’s mailbox, and got her brother off the hook in a drug investigation, among other things.
“Truth can be stranger than fiction,” Seabright said at Katherine Kealoha's sentencing, according to reports.
Katherine Kealoha’s now estranged husband, ex-Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha, will also be spending seven years in prison for his role in the schemes. He lied at the trial of his wife’s uncle for stealing their mailbox, although it ended in a mistrial.
“The chief of police of a major American city worked overtime to frame a person with a crime he did not commit. The oath didn’t matter,” Seabright also said in court.
The Kealohas were convicted of conspiracy last year, along with two former officers who are scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday. The Kealohas also later pleaded guilty to bank fraud, saying gave false information to obtain loans.
Katherine Kealoha, 51, also pleaded guilty to an identity theft charge after she got an officer to forge a police report she used to explain negative information on a credit report. She also pleaded guilty to a charge that involved excluding her brother from a drug investigation he was set to be involved in. Katherine said a “prescription drug addiction” clouded all of her judgement and led to the committing of the crimes.
The judge, however, said the couple went to great lengths "to maintain a lifestyle they couldn't afford on public servant salaries.”
Katherine apologized to her uncle for framing him in a letter read by her lawyer, Gary Singh, in court.
“To my uncle, especially,” she said. “I know that he has been through so much pain and so much hurt.”
Katherine’s aunt, Charlotte Puana Malott, also read a letter she said her 100-year-old mother, Florence Puana, wrote before she died in February.
“I was 90 years old in 2009 when I agreed to a reverse mortgage on my home, not really understanding what it meant. It seemed complicated, yet I trusted you, Katherine,” the letter said.
Katherine reportedly recommended a reverse mortgage to her grandma, claiming it would help buy the condo her uncle, Gerard Puana, wanted. She promised her uncle and grandma she’d pay off the loan, but instead she used the money to buy her uncle’s condo, and then spent the leftover money on herself, including $26,000 for an induction banquet when her husband became police chief and $10,000 on Mercedes-Benz and Maserati car payments, according to the judge.
She also framed her uncle to make him seem less credible as part of the family’s financial dispute.
Louis Kealoha, 60, filed for divorce after they were convicted. He apologized at his sentencing hearing.
This is the last place in my life I thought I’d be and I vow never to be here again," he said.