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.”
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.
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’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:
Sign up for our FREE morning newsletter and face each day more informed.
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?
Patti Epler is the Editor and General Manager of Civil Beat. She's been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years, primarily in Hawaii, Alaska, Washington and Arizona. You can follow her on twitter at @PattiEpler, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 808-377-0561.