A federal judge, not a jury, will determine whether or not Katherine and Louis Kealoha are guilty during an upcoming trial on bank fraud and identity theft charges scheduled for January 2020.

U.S. District Court Judge J. Michael Seabright approved the former city prosecutor and ex-police chief’s waivers to a jury trial at a hearing Wednesday. Every defendant has a constitutional right to a jury trial.

The Kealohas have already been convicted in a previous trial of conspiracy and obstruction charges after having been found guilty of framing Katherine Kealoha’s uncle for the theft of their mailbox by a 12-member federal jury.

Former HPD Chief Louis Kealoha and Katherine Kealoha arrive at District Court.
Former HPD Chief Louis Kealoha and Katherine Kealoha waived their right to a jury Wednesday at Federal District Court in Honolulu. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2019

Two Honolulu Police Department officers — Derek Hahn and Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen were also convicted in that case.

In the bank fraud case, the Kealohas are accused of stealing from the trust funds of children that Katherine Kealoha was a guardian for, as well as banking institutions. Katherine Kealoha faces additional identity theft and obstruction charges.

The Wednesday hearing was to make sure that both defendants understood that the decision to waive their rights to a jury trial was entirely their own, Seabright said.

He asked the Kealohas a series of questions, including if anyone had made any promises or threats to get them to sign the waivers, to which the Kealohas replied, “No.”

They both told the judge that the decision was entirely theirs.

Louis Kealoha’s attorney, Rustam Barbee, and Katherine Kealoha’s attorney, Gary Singh, declined to comment on why their clients were seeking a bench trial.

We’re here to help Hawaii vote.

Our staff has spent months preparing for this election season. Now it’s your turn to vote on the leaders who will impact our community for years to come.

If you’ve relied on our daily analysis and reporting, Candidate Q&As, free events and online resources, please consider making a donation to your local nonprofit newsroom.

Every contribution, however big or small, powers our journalism.

About the Author