It’s official. Katherine Kealoha will not go to trial again until January 2020, as her new court-appointed attorney needs more time to get up to speed.

Federal prosecutors and attorneys for the former deputy city prosecutor and her co-defendants — her husband, former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha, and her younger brother, Rudolph Puana — in the two upcoming federal criminal cases agreed on new dates.

The trial for the bank fraud and identity theft charges that Katherine and Louis Kealoha is now scheduled for Jan. 14, 2020, instead of October this year. That pushes back the subsequent trial involving drug trafficking charges against Katherine Kealoha and Puana to May 5, 2020, instead of March.

Katherine Kealoha arrives at District Court for sentencing.
Katherine Kealoha, center, has two more trials looming. She was convicted of conspiracy and other charges — along with her husband and two Honolulu police officers — last month. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The delay in proceedings comes after Katherine Kealoha’s previous court-appointed lawyer, Cynthia Kagiwada, withdrew, citing ethical concerns.

Attorney Gary Singh took over on July 12, and told U.S. District Court Judge J. Michael Seabright at a hearing on July 18 that he needs more time to catch up.

Federal prosecutors agreed, saying in court filings, “Given the nature of the charges, the volume of discovery, and the existence of the novel questions of fact or law, the parties agree that this case should be deemed unusual or complex.”

The Kealohas were convicted in June of conspiracy alongside two Honolulu police officers for framing her uncle, Gerard Puana, for the June 2013 theft of a mailbox from the couple’s Kahala home.

Katherine Kealoha is currently housed at the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu. The three other defendants — Louis Kealoha, Derek Hahn and Bobby Nguyen — remain free on bail. A fifth defendant in that trial, former HPD Major Gordon Shiraishi, was acquitted.

The Kealohas and the two police officers are set to be sentenced in October. Two other officers have already pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the federal investigation.

Meanwhile, Earle Partington, who joined Katherine Kealoha’s defense in the mailbox trial late in the game and remained, has filed a motion for a new trial, saying his client got ineffective assistance from her former counsel, Kagiwada.

A hearing for that motion is set to take place on Aug. 7.

Help Power Local, Nonprofit News.

Across the nation and in Hawaii, news organizations are downsizing and closing their doors due to the ever-rising costs of keeping local journalism alive and well.

While Civil Beat has grown year over year, still only 1% of our readers are donors, and we need your help now more than ever.

Make a gift today of any amount, and your donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $20,500, thanks to a generous group of Civil Beat donors.

About the Author