Louis Kealoha’s friends and colleagues painted the former Honolulu police chief as a devoted husband and father who gave his wife total control in letters to a federal judge asking for leniency in his criminal conspiracy case.

Katherine Kealoha “ruled the house, finances and any day-to-day decisions regarding their relationship and marriage,” Louis Kealoha’s friend David Scheidt wrote in his letter.

U.S. District Court Judge J. Michael Seabright unsealed the letters Monday, saying there’s no legal basis to withhold them. Louis Kealoha’s attorney, Rustam Barbee, declined an interview.

The former Honolulu police chief and his wife, former Honolulu Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Katherine Kealoha, are awaiting sentencing for their June convictions in a federal criminal trial. They were found guilty of conspiring to frame Katherine Kealoha’s uncle, Gerard Puana, for the theft of their mailbox.

Two HPD officers — Derek Hahn and Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen — were also convicted in that trial. Two other officers — Daniel Sellers and Niall Silva — pleaded guilty in the case before the trial.

Louis Kealoha is flanked by Attorney Gary Modafferi and Attorney Gary Singh leaving US District Court.
Former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha’s friends and colleagues pleaded for leniency in letters to U.S. District Court. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Louis Kealoha also pleaded guilty last week to one count of bank fraud in a separate case involving charges of defrauding banking institutions and stealing from the trust funds of Ransen and Ariana Taito, children for whom Katherine Kealoha acted as guardian.

Sentencing for both cases has been consolidated.

Federal prosecutors and defense lawyers are still at odds over what factors should go into deciding if Louis Kealoha and other defendants in the public corruption cases should receive harsher sentences, so the presiding judge has scheduled a status conference on Oct. 31 to set hearings.

Friends and family members praised Louis Kealoha as an upstanding leader and family man, citing accolades and certificates he received throughout his career.

Among those who wrote in support was Katherine Kealoha’s sister, Rualani Simpson, who said that Louis Kealoha took care of his two brothers with special needs, then his wife, Katherine Kealoha, when she was diagnosed with cancer.

“Louis was by her side and took great care of her, making sure she had the nutrition and medication needed to recover,” Simpson wrote.

HPD Officer Pei Shin wrote in his letter that Louis Kealoha’s “famous advice” to his officers was, “Happy wife, happier life.”

Meanwhile, the former police chief has filed for divorce from his wife in state court, indicating in his petition that the marriage was “irretrievably broken.” He also indicated that Katherine Kealoha should not be entitled to spousal support.

Several people wrote that they believed Louis Kealoha was not aware of the extent of the crimes.

“I truly believe in my heart that Louis did not know about his wife’s crimes,” James Sequin, another friend, wrote in his letter.

Katherine Kealoha herself tried to take the blame away from her husband in a handwritten note she passed to reporters through her attorney after her plea hearing last week.

“Today I took responsibility for my actions and I sincerely hope that the court and the community will see that Louis had no part in my criminal conduct,” she wrote in the note.

But Earle Partington, her attorney in the conspiracy case, said without police involvement, the conspiracy would not have worked.

“I think it’s manifestly unfair that she’s being made the fall guy for the whole damn thing,” he said.

Something to consider...

Civil Beat is a small, independent newsroom that provides free content with no paywall. That means readership growth alone can’t sustain our journalism.

The truth is that less than 2% of our monthly readers are financial supporters. To remain a viable business model for local news, we need a higher percentage of readers-turned-donors.

Will you consider making a tax-deductible gift today?

About the Author