Katherine Kealoha’s parents, several relatives, a couple of friends and a Carmelite nun have submitted letters of support to a federal judge who will decide what sort of punishment she deserves after being convicted of a slew of felonies.

The letters were unsealed by U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright on Tuesday.

The court last month released letters and other material submitted in support of former Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha, who along with his former deputy prosecutor wife has been convicted of numerous felonies stemming from a conspiracy they spearheaded aimed at framing Katherine’s uncle, Gerard Puana, for the theft of the couple’s mailbox.

The couple was embroiled in a lawsuit with Gerard Puana and Katherine’s elderly grandmother at the time, a case that could have cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“Our daughter has always been a source of pride for us,” her parents, Rudolph and Lealani Puana, wrote. “She has always been a child we could count on.”

Former HPD Chief Louis Kealoha and Katherine Kealoha walk towards the District Court entrance.
Louis and Katherine Kealoha were convicted of several felonies in the biggest corruption case in state history. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The Puanas described the 49-year-old Kealoha’s charity work with the Carmelite Sisters and her involvement with St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Kaneohe. They talked about her willingness to help people, even providing legal services she was never paid for.

“Katherine has always been a wonderful mother, daughter, wife, and friend,” the Puanas wrote. “We will always love and support our daughter.”

Most of the letters remember “Kathy Girl,” as one called her, as a child or young woman and describe someone who was sweet, funny and helpful, always kind and compassionate.

“Katherine is not the uncaring monster the media portrays her to be,” wrote Katherine’s second cousin, Olivia Zanakis, a flight attendant living in Texas. “Despite the current case, I still believe Katherine Puana Kealoha to be an honorable individual, a valuable member of the community, and a very good human being.”

Katherine and Louis Kealoha, 59, are at the center of the biggest public corruption case in Hawaii history, a highly publicized federal investigation that has played out over the past five years. The case is still ongoing, the probe branching out to include Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro and one of his deputies. It’s reached into city hall, snagging Corporation Counsel Donna Leong who, like Kaneshiro, has been on paid leave for months while the investigation swirls around them.

In June, the Kealohas and two Honolulu police officers were convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Two other police officers had already pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the federal investigation.

Then last month, the Kealohas pleaded guilty to bank fraud in a separate case that was set for trial in January. The U.S. Attorney had accused them of stealing money from a trust fund Katherine administered for two children whose father had died.

Katherine also pleaded guilty to felonies for her involvement in a drug trafficking ring allegedly run by her brother, Rudolph Puana Jr. He still faces charges and is scheduled for trial next year.

Katherine has been locked up in the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu since shortly after the June conviction. Louis has been free on bail and last month filed for divorce. Sentencing for the couple has been set for March 17.

Katherine’s letters of support and requests for leniency came mainly from her family and people who had known her for much of her life. There were eight of them in the file released Tuesday.

Louis, on the other hand, submitted about 40 pages of material, including 15 letters, many from officers who had worked with or for him in the department. He also included hand-written notes from people he’d helped on the job, as well as professional certificates he’d earned and letters from various organizations he’d been associated with.

Read Katherine Kealoha’s letters here:

What sets us apart.

Regardless of who or what you voted for, we hope we’ve distinguished ourselves from other news media through our election coverage as well as our commitment to strengthening the civic health of Hawaii.

Now, we’re asking you to consider becoming part of something larger than yourself by joining as a Civil Beat member.

Help kick-start Civil Beat’s summer fundraising campaign with a gift of $5+/month or one-time donation of $60+ and receive a limited edition “Truth Maze” beach towel.

About the Author