The three attorneys representing Louis and Katherine Kealoha, who were recently indicted on charges of conspiracy, bank fraud and obstruction, say the case is too big and costly for them to properly represent the couple and are recommending the court appoint new publicly paid lawyers to take over.

They say the Kealohas — who contend their assets have been locked up by the U.S. government — can’t afford to pay for their own legal defense.

Kevin Sumida, one of the Kealohas’ attorneys, filed a motion in U.S. District Court late Tuesday  asking that he, Myles Breiner and Gary Modafferi all be replaced by legal counsel appointed from a federal panel of private lawyers who take court-appointed cases for indigent defendants when the federal defender cannot. 

Former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife Katherine may be losing their defense attorneys. Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

The motion comes just days after the U.S. Attorney’s Office asked that Sumida and Breiner be removed from the case due to numerous conflicts of interest. The Kealohas are scheduled to be in court Wednesday for a hearing on that motion.

In his motion, Sumida said the government has said it has nearly 250,000 pages of evidence and 500 witnesses, and that the criminal trial would last nearly four months.

He said the case, which now totals six defendants, including the Kealohas, “is of such magnitude and complexity that there are no other attorneys locally available who are both qualified and not suffering from potential conflicts.”

“Defendants can no longer fund a defense,” Sumida wrote. “Their assets have been effectively frozen by the federal government, and the terms of their bond prohibit them from even applying for a loan.”

Modafferi, who only recently began representing Louis Kealoha, told Civil Beat that the decision to seek new attorneys through the U.S. Criminal Justice Act panel was purely economic.

The Kealohas are accused, among other things, of orchestrating a conspiracy to frame a family member for the theft of their mailbox in an attempt to undermine him in a legal dispute over money. Several Honolulu police officers have also been charged in the alleged frame up.

But the other allegations revolving around financial crimes are equally, if not more, complex.

“It’s just a reality check,” Modafferi said “This case is going to be massive.”

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