Puana testified in a six-hour deposition, which took place several weeks before the trial began because of her ailing health. That deposition was played on video during the trial. Puana cried when a federal prosecutor asked her about her relationship with her granddaughter. “She was a loving, loving gentle person and I trusted her,” said Puana.
Federal prosecutors linked the frame job to a reverse mortgage scheme that Katherine Kealoha had roped her grandmother into. Kealoha then used the money for personal expenses.
Puana was forced to sell her home.
Florence and Gerard Puana sued over it, which prosecutors said was the motive behind the mailbox frame job. It threatened to ruin the Kealohas’ image in the community and possibly expose their financial crimes.
A state judge sided with Kealoha in that suit, awarding her about $658,000, and about $108,000 was garnished from Florence Puana’s bank account to cover attorney’s fees. However, a new trial was granted in that case in November last year.
Puana was born on Maui in 1919. She turned 100 in August 2019.
“She was a very loving person and a very strong willed person,” said Alexander Silvert, a federal public defender who represented Gerard Puana. “And it was wonderful that she got vindicated by her truth being out there.”
Sign up for our FREE morning newsletter and face each day more informed.
A critical time for local journalism . . .
Over 1,800 daily and weekly newspapers in the U.S. have ceased operations since 2004 — among them the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and the Honolulu Weekly. Studies have shown that when local journalism disappears, government financing costs go up, fewer people run for public office, elected officials become less responsive to their constituents, and voter turnout decreases.
Our small nonprofit newsroom works hard every day to present local news in a deep and transparent way, without fear or favor.
We also rely on donations from readers like you to keep us afloat. The more support we receive; the stronger, more sustainable our journalism becomes; the more accountable we are to you. Please consider supporting our small newsroom with a tax-deductible gift.