HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A former deputy city prosecutor testified Thursday in the public corruption trial against the Kealohas that six years ago his boss ― Katherine Kealoha ―had him file a court motion to try and get a felony conviction against her uncle.
Kaina Awong took the stand on the sixth day of the so-called “mailbox trial” against Kealoha, her husband Louis ― the former chief of police ― and three Honolulu officers.
He told the jury that on Sept. 19, 2013, Katherine Kealoha, who headed up the career criminal unit at the city Prosecutor’s Office at the time, told him to get a conviction on her uncle Gerard Puana’s record.
The order came while the Kealohas were embroiled in a family dispute with the Puanas.
Hawaii News Now has obtained court documents that show Awong filed a motion with the courts to “correct illegal sentence,” saying a deferred acceptance of a no contest plea was illegal.
Two years earlier, Puana had pleaded “no contest” to a charge of unlawful entry into a dwelling for walking into his neighbor’s home and yelling at the neighbor to move a car blocking a stairwell.
The deferral means that since Puana was compliant for the required time, the conviction was wiped from his record. It’s a common practice if a defendant is not repeat offender.
Clarissa Malinao, Puana’s attorney in that case, told a Circuit Court judge that Awong’s motion to reverse the deferral and seek a conviction against Puana was “quite interesting.”
The attorney was made aware that Puana and Kealoha were facing off in a civil suit over money the Puanas claim that Kealoha stole from them.
Malinao was called to testify Wednesday in the Kealoha mailbox trial. She said said Awong told her then that “you know who my boss is,” referring to Katherine Kealoha.
Malinao said it was clear to her that Kealoha was trying to get Puana convicted of a felony crime.
This plays into the government’s position that the Kealohas were doing this to gain the upper hand in the civil suit.
Also Thursday, Thomas Woodard, an FBI video expert from Quantico, Virginia testified that the hard drive from the Kealoha’s surveillance video was recorded over showing the ceiling of the CIU office from May 21, 2014 to May 27, 2014. Woodard says that made it impossible to recover the original video which would show the hours before and hours after the mailbox theft.
“I’ll be able to see if Louis Kealoha went surfing as he claims he did at 6 in the morning, I’ll be able to see if someone tampered with the mailbox, loosened it up so that now this other person can come pull it off and jump back into the car, these things are going to be on that video they’re going to be on that hard drive so I want that hard drive,” HNN Legal Analyst Ken Lawson said.
A subpoena for the video evidence was approved by a federal judge on May 20, 2014, the day before the consecutive recording of the CIU ceiling began.
Lawson said that makes it look even worse, because the video hard drive had been stored in the CIU office for more than a year, then, suddenly the day after a subpoena for it is approved, someone records over it.
Lynne Uyema, the attorney for the Honolulu Police Department accepted that subpoena and testified that she asked Chief Louis Kealoha about the equipment. Uyema said she was told by both, that everything had been turned over.
Retired Sergeant Alvin Lum also testified Thursday. Lum had been in CIU and one of the recovered still images the FBI was able to recover, shows Lum’s face, with the CIU ceiling behind him, the day the questionable recording ended.
The final witness called on day 6 of the trial, Bronson Tokioka. Tokioka, a former police officer, entered into a solar company with defendants Katherine Kealoha and Derek Hahn
Tokioka also was in CIU before he left the Honolulu Police Department.
Lawson says witnesses including Tokioka help to establish the close relationship between the defendants all accused of conspiracy.