Nearly 150 witnesses are set to testify at the upcoming criminal trial of former Honolulu police chief Louis and Katherine Kealoha, a law enforcement power couple accused of framing a family member for the theft of their mailbox.
Two of them are journalists.
On Monday, attorneys for the U.S. Justice Department submitted a combined witness list that shows all the people who could be called to testify during the trial, which is set to begin next week with jury selection.
Louis and Katherine Kealoha face a litany of charges related to allegations they framed a family member to hide their financial misdeeds.
Cory Lum/Civil Beat
While there are some familiar names on the list, there are a few surprises most notably Hawaii News Now reporter Lynn Kawano, who has led the news station’s coverage of the case as it unfolded over the past four years or so.
Another person on that list is Trisha Watson-Sproat, who prosecutors describe as an “Attorney and Civil Beat Reporter.” Watson-Sproat is a columnist for Civil Beat who writes under the name Trisha Kehaulani Watson. She is also a close friend of Katherine Kealoha, and her involvement in the case stems from that relationship, not her work for Civil Beat.
The Kealohas are accused of abusing their power to frame Puana for the theft of their mailbox in 2013 in an attempt to tarnish his credibility in a civil lawsuit in which he and his mother, Florence, accused Katherine of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
At the time, Louis Kealoha was the chief of the Honolulu Police Department while Katherine was a high-ranking city prosecutor running the career criminal division.
Several HPD officers have been accused of taking part in the conspiracy and subsequent cover-up.
There are 46 current and former Honolulu police officers on the witness list, including Daniel Sellers and Niall Silva. Both have already pleaded guilty to crimes related to the alleged frame job.
One name missing from the list is Alison Lee Wong.
According to prosecutors, Wong doesn’t exist. They say Katherine Kealoha created her to help her execute her fraudulent activities as well as boost her own social status.
For instance, when Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle appointed Kealoha to head the Office of Environmental Quality Control one of the people who submitted testimony to the Legislature in support of the nomination was Wong.
Here’s a piece from KHON2 about what that might mean at the upcoming trial.
As University of Hawaii law instructor Ken Lawson told the TV station, “If Alison Lee Wong’s name is going to be prominent in this trial and the defense says she actually exists, somebody better produce her.”
In addition to the Kealohas, three current and former Honolulu police officers — Derek Hahn, Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen and Gordon Shiraishi — are charged for taking part in the alleged conspiracy and cover-up to frame Gerard Puana.
The Kealohas face an additional set of charges related to other financial crimes, including bank fraud and identity theft that will be the subject of a future trial.
Katherine Kealoha also faces a series of federal drug charges with her brother Rudolph Puana for allegedly running a prescription drug trafficking ring.
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