Kealoha is set to remain behind bars for another seven years.

A request from disgraced former Honolulu prosecutor Katherine Kealoha to end her 13-year prison sentence early has been officially rejected.

In a ruling on Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge J. Michael Seabright denied Kealoha’s petition.

“After careful review, the court determines that Defendant’s claims are either time-barred or are not properly brought” under the law, Seabright wrote.

Kealoha was convicted in 2019 of conspiracy and obstruction of justice, for framing her uncle for a federal crime he did not commit – stealing her mailbox. Her husband, former police chief Louis Kealoha, was also convicted in the case and is in prison. In addition, Katherine Kealoha pleaded guilty to identity theft and bank fraud charges and admitted to involvement in a drug ring run by her brother, Rudy Puana, who is also in prison.

Katherine Kealoha walks into District Court for sentencing. June 28, 2019
Katherine Kealoha will remain in prison after a federal judge denied her petition for release. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2019)

Katherine Kealoha petitioned the court to dismiss her conviction and release her from custody citing “ineffective counsel.” She complained about the representation by her court-appointed trial attorney Cynthia Kagiwada and her subsequent attorney, Earle Partington, who Kealoha said failed to appeal her case at her request within the mandated time limit.

But Seabright said it was too late to bring these claims. He dismissed suggestions by Kealoha that she was unable to appeal her case because of prison restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As to the claim that Partington was ineffective for failing to file a notice of appeal, Defendant has failed to demonstrate that she could not have learned of this failure well within the one-year limitations period,” Seabright wrote.

“Based on this record, the court determines that reasonable jurists could not find the court’s ruling debatable.”

Kealoha will remain in custody until Feb. 9, 2030, according to the Bureau of Prisons.

A good reason not to give

We know not everyone can afford to pay for news right now, which is why we keep our journalism free for everyone to read, listen, watch and share. 

But that promise wouldn’t be possible without support from loyal readers like you.

Make a gift to Civil Beat today and help keep our journalism free for all readers. And if you’re able, consider a sustaining monthly gift to support our work all year-round.



About the Author