Judge Seabright: ‘Corruption was allowed to flourish’ in Kealoha case

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — Katherine Kealoha and her husband, Louis Kealoha were sentenced Monday for the now infamous corruption case they were convicted of in 2019. Katherine, a former Honolulu Deputy Prosecutor, was sentenced to 13 years behind bars. At sentencing, Judge Seabright said “How was it this went on so long undetected? … Anyone who cares about the community should be asking this … Corruption was allowed to flourish,” in this case.

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Several hours after hearing her fate, her husband and former Honolulu Police Chief, Louis was sentenced to seven years–84 months plus 16 months to be served concurrently. Louis will also be required to do three years of supervised release.

Katherine and Louis were convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice in June 2019 for framing her uncle for mailbox theft. Former HPD officers Derek Hahn and Bobby Nguyen were also convicted.

Katherine has been in federal prison since June 28, 2019 when Judge Michael Seabright ordered her remand at her detention hearing. At the time, Prosecutor Michael Wheat called her a flight risk and said that she was “a walking crime spree,” to which Judge Seabright responded, “I’m not concerned about flight risk … but I am concerned about the obstructive conduct that has been demonstrated.”

A few days prior to sentencing, Katherine accepted full responsibility for what she called widespread destruction. She said in court Monday, “I ask for forgiveness from my family, my uncle, for all the hurt I have caused.” She also admitted, in a handwritten letter to Judge Seabright that she had abused prescription drugs since 2001. “My life was a blur of turbulence and chaos, and I was navigating my way in the darkness,” she said. Katherine also submitted to Judge Seabright a certificate for completing a drug abuse prevention program.

Also in her letter Katherine said of her three co-defendants, “All three of them are good family men who do not deserve to go to prison… and their only mistakes were in trusting me and associating with me.”

Katherine was ordered to pay $454,984 in restitution: $46,261 to her uncle, Gerard Puana; $243,453 to the estate of her grandmother, Florence Puana; $81,384 to Ranson Taito and $83,884 to Ranson’s sister Ariana. Louis was ordered to pay $237,698.56. Restitution will partially come from the sale of their forfeited assets.

Louis was also directed to be treated for mental health. He will turn himself in for his prison sentence on April 12, 2021. He has requested to serve his time on the West Coast.

The co-defendants in this case, Derek Hahn and Bobby Nguyen will be sentenced Tuesday.

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