Alleged victim of ex-police chief’s wife pleads guilty to conspiracy count
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The corruption case against Honolulu's former police chief and his deputy prosecutor wife took a new turn Friday after a man whose trust the deputy prosecutor allegedly stole from pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Ransen Taito, 26, admitted to lying and providing phony documents to the federal grand jury that investigated Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha and ex-Police Chief Louis Kealoha.
Taito said in court on Friday that Katherine Kealoha told him that if he didn't lie "she could lose her job and that his mother could go to jail."
"If this was a book you wouldn't believe it. It'd just be pure fiction. You couldn't believe this could happen," said Taito's attorney Michael Green.
"It kind of boggles the mind that a lawyer would do this and their trust's guardian would do this to young kids."
Green said Taito got duped by a woman who manipulated him.
"When he actually found out that his mother didn't get his money, and that he had committed this kind of crime, he came to see me. He was really upset, they were shook up. He wants to tell the truth, his sister wants to tell the truth."
Taito faces up to five years behind bars and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced in July. He was released on a $25,000 unsecured bond, and has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
A grand jury indicted the Kealohas in October, accusing them and current and former Honolulu police officers of framing Kat Kealoha's uncle to discredit him in a family financial dispute. The indictment also included allegations that while she was in private practice, Kat Kealoha stole $150,000 from trusts of two children under her guardianship.
Kealoha was court-appointed in 2004 as trustee and guardian for the children, then 12 and 10. The sibling's father received money in a medical malpractice settlement before he died. Taito, now a car salesman, is one of the children.
Taito and his sister didn't know Kealoha was stealing from them, especially because she would give them some money here and there, family members have said.
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Taito admitted that he lied to the grand jury in April 2016, saying he received all of his money from Kealoha.
Immediately after testifying before the grand jury, he said he met with Kealoha at the Like Like Drive Inn on Keeaumoku Street and signed a series of documents with different-colored pens, saying had received all the money owed to him under the trust. Those alleged phony records were subsequently provided to the grand jury.
The feds have accused Kealoha of depleting the sibling's trust accounts over time, spending the money on her personal expenses. She tried to hide her deception by forging documents and creating a fictional assistant named "Alison Lee Wong," when other attorneys questioned what happened to the trusts, prosecutors said.
The Kealohas and the others charged in their case have pleaded not guilty.
Katherine Kealoha's attorney, Cynthia Kagiwada, declined comment today.
Green believes that federal investigators are now broadening their case, focusing on the prosecutors office.
"(Prosecutor Keith) Kaneshiro has already gone before the grand jury three times," said Green.
"What's coming down the pike -- what's about to come -- unfortunately is going to make national news. I mean the whole country is going to look at the potential of the prosecutor's office maybe getting charged, and I'm not naming names."
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