- Special Projects
Former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, Katherine, a high-ranking city prosecutor, were arrested Friday by the FBI and indicted on 20 counts of criminal conspiracy, fraud and obstruction of justice.
Alana Robinson, acting U.S. Attorney for San Diego, described the alleged conspiracy as a “complex web of fraud, deception and obstruction by a husband and wife team so desperate to fund their lifestyle and maintain their self-professed status as Honolulu’s power couple that they swindled hundreds of thousands of dollars from banks, credit unions and some of the most vulnerable members of the community.”
The Kealohas have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Four other current and former officers were arrested and charged in relation to the indictment, including Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen, Gordon Shiraishi, Derek Hahn and Daniel Sellers.
Here is a look at the indictment against the Kealohas and other alleged accomplices:
The indictment alleges that the Kealohas orchestrated a conspiracy to hide “their precarious financial condition,” as well as the fact that they diverted the trust funds of two minor children under Katherine Kealoha’s guardianship — identified as A.T. and R.T. — for their personal use.
At the center of the conspiracy was an alleged plot by the Kealohas and five accomplices — current and former HPD officials — to frame Katherine Kealoha’s uncle, Gerard Puana, for the alleged theft of a mailbox at the Kealohas’ then-residence.
The plot was part of an alleged scheme for the Kealohas to gain the upper hand in a family dispute against Puana and his 98-year-old mother, Florence, that involved a large sum of money.
The indictment alleges that, as part of the plot, the Kealohas and their accomplices deprived the Fourth Amendment rights of Puana, as well as fabricated, altered and concealed evidence. (The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unlawful searches and seizures of property.)
The Kealohas and their accomplices “corruptly attempt(ed) to obstruct, influence and impede the official proceedings” by making “false and misleading statements” on four occasions — either at the trial of Gerard Puana for the alleged mailbox theft or to the federal grand jury. They also allegedly made “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to obstruct their investigations.
In 2004, as the guardian of A.T. and R.T., Katherine Kealoha was instructed by the court to open trust accounts on their behalf. She set up two accounts, each containing more than $83,000, but failed to follow the court’s instruction to list her co-counsel as authorized signatory, leaving her as the only one overseeing the accounts’ transactions.
The indictment alleges that Kealoha then went on to defraud a bank to secure loans in the amount of more than $105,000 by using the accounts as collateral, pledging that the money would be spent on either “home improvement and tuition needs,” or “kid’s expenses.” But she allegedly used the loans for personal expenses and eventually liquidated both accounts.
The Kealohas also allegedly defrauded another bank to secure loans in excess of $3.7 million by “means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises.”
The Kealohas’ schemes to secure the loans allegedly involved falsely claiming A.T. and R.T.’s accounts as their own assets, forging a document to make it look like they had a monthly rental income of $2,700 and falsely reporting identity theft to “explain away their poor credit history.”
The indictment also alleges that Katherine Kealoha took a total of $95,000 that Gerard Puana gave her for an investment hui and used more than $45,000 of it for personal expenses. She also allegedly set up an elaborate scheme in which she helped Florence Puana get a reverse mortgage on her home to buy a condo but used more than $92,000 of the loan for personal expenses.
Among the Kealohas’ personal expenses were more than $10,000 in payments for a Mercedes Benz and a Maserati, $2,000 for Elton John tickets and $3,000 in charity donations.
The indictment alleges that Katherine Kealoha, who also went by an alias, Alison Lee Wong, used another person’s identify to secure four of the loans she obtained through the bank fraud.