U.S. District Court Judge J. Michael Seabright granted federal prosecutors’ request Monday to dismiss a conspiracy charge against Ransen Taito, one of Katherine Kealoha’s victims who pleaded guilty in 2018 of lying to a grand jury on her behalf.

In a motion filed Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Wheat wrote that Taito was merely a “pawn” in Kealoha’s extensive criminal enterprise, which included bilking Taito and his sister out of more than $160,000 when they were minors.

Hours later Seabright agreed with Wheat’s motion, saying in a one-page written order that Wheat’s request “serves the interests of justice to dismiss this matter with prejudice.”

Ransen Taito, now an adult, leaves the U.S. District Court of Hawaii in January 2018. Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

“Kealoha used her power, position, and influence to convince Mr. Taito to lie to the grand jury to protect his mother,” Wheat said in his motion. 

“While the dilemma Kealoha placed him in does not excuse his conscious decision to lie to the grand jury, when considering the totality of the current circumstances — including Kealoha’s recent convictions and outstanding order of restitution to Mr. Taito — the United States does not believe that a substantial federal interest presently exists in penalizing Mr. Taito with a felony conviction.”

Kealoha, a former deputy prosecutor for the City and County of Honolulu, was indicted in October 2017 along with her husband, retired police chief Louis Kealoha, and several other officers for framing a family member for the theft of her mailbox.

The indictment included a litany of other charges, including bank fraud and identity theft. Katherine Kealoha, in particular, was accused of stealing from the Taito siblings when they were children.

According to court records, Kealoha was appointed as the Taitos’ guardian in 2004 after their father died. At the time Taito and his sister were 12 and 10 years old.

Kealoha was supposed to create two separate trust accounts for the Taito children so that they could split more than $160,000 he had left for them after he settled a previous medical malpractice claim.

She instead stole the money and used it for herself.

Katherine Kealoha and former HPD Chief Louis Kealoha arrive to District Court greeting media/tv camera guy with a friendly good morning.
Retired Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, Katherine, a former city prosecutor, were charged with a series of crimes, including conspiracy. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

When the FBI began asking questions, Kealoha convinced Taito to lie on her behalf. She told him that if he didn’t his mother, who had been involved with drugs, could go to jail.

Taito pleaded guilty in January 2018 to a single count of conspiracy for lying to the grand jury that was investigating the Kealohas.

His sentencing had been scheduled for Jan. 19.

Two other defendants are also scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 19, including former Honolulu police officer Niall Silva, who pleaded guilty to taking part in the frame job conspiracy, and Jesse Ebersole, a Big Island firefighter, who admitted to lying about his romantic relationship with Katherine Kealoha.

The Kealohas and two other officers, Derek Hahn and Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen, were sentenced to lengthy prison terms in November.

The Kealohas were additionally ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution to their victims, including the Taitos.

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