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.
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.
Stay Up To Date On The Coronavirus And Other Hawaii Issues
Not a subscription
Civil Beat is a small nonprofit newsroom, and we’re committed to a paywall-free website and subscription-free content because we believe in journalism as a public service.
That’s why donations from readers like you are essential to our continued existence.
Help keep our journalism free for all readers by becoming a monthly member of Civil Beat today.