A federal judge says Katherine Kealoha’s new court-appointed attorney has no conflict of interest and can continue as her attorney for upcoming trials.

On Tuesday, Hawaii News Now reported that Gary Singh was observed in March 2018 leaving the federal grand jury with one of the witnesses who may play a role in an upcoming trial against Kealoha. 

The witness was reportedly in a McCully home during an August 2015 raid where two arrests related to the case were made — her roommate, Tiffany Masunaga and former HPD officer Alan Ahn.

Katherine Kealoha leaves District Court after guilty verdict.

Katherine Kealoha leaves District Court after she was found guilty of conspiracy and obstruction in June.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Kealoha faces two additional trials involving bank fraud and identity theft and drug trafficking. She was already convicted of conspiracy and obstruction charges alongside her husband, former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and two of his officers, Derek Hahn and Minh Hung “Bobby” Nguyen.  

In response to the Hawaii News Now report, U.S. Magistrate Judge Wes Reber Porter called for a hearing to examine the potential conflict of interest. 

“I wanted to have one to address and look into it now when we have sufficient time,” Porter said. 

Katherine Kealoha did not attend the Friday hearing. Singh said he had told her about it and expected her to be there, and was surprised that she did not show up. Porter said it was his understanding that Kealoha had refused to come to court.

When Porter asked the taxpayer-funded attorney if he thought there were any conflict issues, Singh said he did not. He also said Kealoha also believes there is no conflict of interest.

Singh also told the judge that the witness had testified to the federal grand jury for half a day and that he had spoken to her before that, but that was the extent of his legal representation of her. 

Federal prosecutors said they did not plan on calling on the witness in the next trial involving bank fraud and identity theft. That is scheduled to take place in January 2020. 

But they could not say for certain whether or not she would be called for the following case, which involves drug trafficking charges against Katherine Kealoha and her younger brother, Rudolph Puana. 

This is a large investigation with many moving parts and witnesses, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Colin McDonald.

“At this point it’s unlikely that she would be, but I’m not confident going further than that.”

The court held a brief closed session without members of the public or press before Porter ultimately found that there were no conflict of interest issues at this time. 

The next hearing involving Katherine Kealoha takes place Aug. 7. U.S. District Court Judge J. Michael Seabright will continue to discuss the new motion for a new trial for the first trial that convicted Kealoha and the three other defendants.

Will you help us?

There are upsides to being a nonprofit as we carry out our public-service mission. We don’t have a paywall on our site, charge a subscription fee, or clutter our articles with ads. But this also means that reader support sustains every aspect of what we do. Without you, we don’t exist. It’s as simple as that. By donating, you’re supporting everyone on staff—and allowing unbiased, factual, honest journalism to thrive. If you value our work, will you make a tax-deductible donation today?

About the Author