Katherine Kealoha will go to jail as she awaits her sentencing in October.
U.S. District Court Judge J. Michael Seabright revoked Kealoha’s bail Friday and ordered her detained in the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu.
The former city prosecutor, her former Honolulu police chief husband Louis Kealoha and two police officers who conspired to frame her uncle for the theft of her mailbox in June 2013 were convicted Thursday of conspiracy.
The jury also found them guilty of three obstruction of justice charges, after hearing evidence for 18 days and deliberating for one and a half days.
Louis Kealoha and the two convicted officers — Derek Hahn and Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen — remain free on bail until their sentencing hearings in October.
One other defendant in the trial — retired HPD Major Gordon Shiraishi — was found not guilty of all charges.
Seabright said his decision to detain Katherine Kealoha was based on the finding that posing “danger” could include instances of obstructing or attempting to obstruct justice, which he said was Kealoha’s “bread and butter.”
He said he had no doubt that Kealoha could try to obstruct justice some more, given that she had made a “determined effort to have an innocent man incarcerated, after engaging in outright theft.”
“It was her own grandmother she did this to, her own uncle she tried to set up,” he said.
Louis Kealoha, who often walked hand-in-hand with his wife throughout the trial did not attend her bail hearing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Wheat argued Friday that Kealoha had a long history of obstruction, some of which was proven with Thursday’s verdict.
“This defendant is a walking crime spree,” Wheat said.
Wheat filed a brief in support of the government’s request to put Katherine Kealoha in jail shortly after Thursday’s guilty verdict. It was a strongly worded argument that described in detail why Kealoha cannot be trusted.
“For over a decade, Katherine Kealoha has repeatedly flaunted (sic) the law, leaving countless victims in her wake,” Wheat said.
Wheat argued that Kealoha used her “extensive power as a lawyer and deputy prosecutor” to frame her uncle Gerard Puana for the theft of her mailbox on June 21, 2013.
“She did so through an endless web of lies and deceit,” Wheat said. “As the evidence at trial proved, Kealoha lies as easily as she draws breath.”
According to Wheat, Kealoha has repeatedly tried to undermine the government’s case, including by tampering with a witness after she was indicted.
She also tried to convince other potential witnesses that her alter ego, Alison Lee Wong, a person she used to carry out alleged acts of fraud and other criminal activity, was in fact a real person. Of course, Wong is not real, Wheat said. She is Katherine Kealoha.
Wheat pointed out that two people — Jesse Ebersole and Ransen Taito — have already pleaded guilty to conspiracy with Kealoha for providing false testimony to a federal grand jury.
Ebersole, a Big Island firefighter, was Kealoha’s secret boyfriend while Taito is an alleged victim of her financial crimes. She’s accused of stealing nearly $150,000 from him and his sister when they were minors under her guardianship.
The brief notes that Kealoha faces at least two more criminal trials, one involving allegations of obstruction, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft and another involving a conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.
Kealoha is accused along with her brother, Rudolph Puana, of running a prescription drug ring, in part, to help fuel his cocaine habit.
“Finally, Katherine Kealoha is a chronic malingerer, having previously feigned medical ailments to avoid accountability for her actions,” Wheat said.
“When she is under the microscope, Katherine Kealoha claims bad health as a shield to cover her misdeeds. But her health is suddenly no issue when she turns the scope on others.”
The federal prosecutor pointed out how Kealoha would continually delay depositions in a civil lawsuit the Puanas had filed against her by claiming she was ill.
She even provided a doctor’s note saying she was unable to take part in a deposition. Her attorney also said in a sworn statement that his client was suffering from “rather debilitating health problems.”
Wheat, however, undercut those excuses in his brief by pointing out that at the same time Kealoha was supposedly sick she was able to secure a 414-count indictment from a state grand jury, which was the largest indictment in state history.
“This case was later dismissed based on prosecutorial misconduct,” Wheat said.
Kealoha’s court-appointed defense lawyer Cynthia Kagiwada tried to argue that her client should remain free until sentencing because she’s complied with her conditions of release, which barred her from contact with several people, including an 8-year-old relative.
Kagiwada also tried to downplay her client’s attempted interference in the government’s case, saying that she only tried to tamper with a witness once after she was indicted.
“She has complied with all of her conditions in three different cases,” Kagiwada said. “So that has to count for something.”
The convicted defendants could face between five to eight years in prison, said Alexander Silvert, a federal public defender who represented Katherine Kealoha’s uncle Gerard Puana in the federal criminal trial in connection with the stolen mailbox.
But the judge has discretion to go higher, Silvert said.
Katherine and Louis Kealoha face another trial in October relating to financial crimes, bank fraud and identity theft.
Katherine Kealoha faces an additional trial in January for allegedly running a prescription drug trafficking ring with her younger brother, Rudolph Puana, an anesthesiologist.
Her sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 7. Louis Kealoha will be sentenced the following week, on Oct. 15.
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