Expert testifies signatures on key documents in Kealoha case were likely forged

Updated: Jun. 6, 2019 at 4:53 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A handwriting expert testified Thursday in the so-called “mailbox trial” that at least two financial documents that appeared to be signed by Katherine Kealoha’s uncle were likely forged, but the expert couldn’t determine who forged them.

The expert also told jurors there were striking similarities between Kealoha’s signature and the signature for Allison Lee Wong ― a name identified as a public notary on some key documents that prosecutors allege was actually an imaginary person that Kealoha invented to help herself out.

Handwriting expert David Oleksow spent hours on the stand Thursday in the public corruption trial against Kealoha, her husband Louis and three officers, explaining how he analyzes handwriting samples and how he went about looking at the signatures in the public corruption case.

It might have been tough for the jury to follow at times.

But Oleksow did prove to be an important witness for the government, establishing at the very least that someone had forged the signature of Katherine Kealoha’s uncle, Gerard Puana, on key documents.

The government alleges the Kealohas sought to frame Puana with the theft of their mailbox ― a federal crime. The reported theft came as Puana and his elderly mother were pursuing a civil suit against Katherine Kealoha over the money that she’s alleged to have taken from them.

[Read more: ‘The Mailbox Trial’: Public corruption case of unprecedented scope in Hawaii gets underway]

Oleksow testified that he believes Puana’s signature was probably forged on a trust account that Katherine Kealoha allegedly set up for him and a real estate document. Puana has said that those signatures are definitely not his own.

The handwriting expert also said that when Katherine Kealoha was asked to provide handwriting samples for investigators, she altered her style.

Defense attorneys for the Kealohas and the officers had no questions for Oleksow.

Also on the stand Thursday, Charles Totto. When Totto was the Executive Director of the city Ethics Commission, he launched an investigation into the Kealohas after a complaint that they were misusing city resources. The focus of the complaint centered around the HPD surveillance equipment that was on their home and that CIU officers were essentially providing 24 hour a day security on the property.

Totto said he and his investigator, Letha Decaires, interviewed then Major Gordon Shiraishi and Officer Bobby Nguyen, both defendants in the mailbox trial. The audio recordings of those interviews were played for the jury.

Charles Totto, fmr. Exec. Dir. of City Ethics Commission leaves federal court
Charles Totto, fmr. Exec. Dir. of City Ethics Commission leaves federal court

The Kealohas turned around and filed seven complaints against Totto, and five against Decaires, for improper investigation, among other things.

The Kealohas also filed a civil suit against the Ethics Commission, Totto and Decaires. That suit was dismissed last year.

The government has publicly alleged, the Kealoahs had a pattern of rewarding friends and punishing enemies.

Totto will be back on the stand when trial resumes Friday morning.

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