What’s next? A look at the lingering questions now that the Kealoha verdict is in

What’s next? The biggest lingering questions now that the Kealoha verdict is in

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - On Thursday, Louis and Katherine Kealoha ― along with two Honolulu police officers ― were found guilty in federal court of conspiracy and attempt to obstruct justice, corruption charges that carry the possibility of as much as 20 years in court.

Now that the so-called ‘Mailbox Trial’ is over, and Katherine Kealoha has been taken to jail while she awaits her sentencing hearing in October, many who followed the trial are turning their attention to some of the other pressing questions regarding the corruption case.

  • What happened in court today? We know Katherine Kealoha was remanded into custody, but what was her demeanor, and did they take her into custody right away?
    • Kealoha’s face was stoic and expressionless as a federal judge announced his decision to remand her into custody at the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu until sentencing, our Lynn Kawano reports. In the moments after the hearing, Kealoha’s co-counsel in the corruption trial, Earle Partington, was asked whether or not she was expecting to be sent to jail today. His response: “I think so.”
    • Kealoha was taken out of the courtroom through a side door and transported to the FDC in an unmarked white van early Friday afternoon. Hawaii News Now learned Friday that Kealoha’s inmate number at the Federal Detention Center is listed as 06014-122.
  • What will the conditions be like for Katherine Kealoha as she spends her first night in jail as a convicted felon?
    • Kealoha, as a highly-visible detainee and a former law enforcement official, is expected to be placed in solitary confinement as a safety precaution. Detainees are also often put on suicide watch during the early days of their confinement as they adjust to their new surroundings.
  • Sentencing isn’t until October, but what is she looking at in terms of potential sentences, and where would she be likely to serve her time in prison?
    • The obstruction counts that Katherine Kealoha and her husband were convicted of on Thursday carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The conspiracy charge the couple was convicted of also carries a 5-year maximum term, but it’s expected she would be allowed to serve those sentences concurrently. Of course, that was only the couple’s first trial:
  • Kealoha is still facing the possibility of two more trials. What are those cases, and is there a chance she could take a plea deal now that she’s lost one trial already?
    • Katherine Kealoha and her husband, at present, are still scheduled to stand trial for a financial fraud case involving the theft of money from a trust belonging to Ransen Taito and his younger sister, Ariana, when they were minors. Upon the completion of that case, Katherine and her brother Rudy, a physician on the Big Island, will stand trial on a variety of drug charges, including allegations that she trafficked prescription medications.
    • Due to the nature of the ‘mailbox trial’ being based largely on circumstantial evidence, legal experts say the case that just ended was Katherine Kealoha’s best chance of beating one of the three indictments against her. The second trial, involving bank fraud and identity theft, is believed by legal experts to be much more difficult to win ― which, according to legal experts, heightens the possibility that the Kealohas will try to work out a plea deal with federal prosecutors.
  • Where does the Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office go from here? What happens to all of Katherine Kealoha’s old cases and convictions?
    • The next steps for the office and Acting Prosecutor Dwight Nadamoto ― Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro remains on leave, pending the outcome of a separate federal investigation ― are unclear at this point. It’s believed that many of the cases and convictions Katherine Kealoha was involved in as a deputy prosecutor will be called into question. During the ‘mailbox’ trial, documents were unsealed that showed Katherine Kealoha was supposed to have been on medical leave for a stretch between 2013 and 2014, though she was working during the entire stretch.
  • Do you think Katherine will keep the same legal team moving forward? What do you expect the basis of her appeal to be?
    • Another question that remains up in the air. Cynthia Kagiwada was Katherine Kealoha’s during the mailbox trial, but Kagiwada is a court-appointed lawyer, and it’s not yet known whether she’ll serve as Kealoha’s lawyer in the upcoming cases. Partington only served as co-counsel for less than half the trial, and when asked Friday about whether he would continue to work as her lawyer, he said he wasn’t sure.
  • What happens next for Louis Kealoha? Does he still qualify for his HPD pension, and will he have to pay back his $250,000 severance?
    • Louis Kealoha served in the Honolulu Police Department for 33 years and contributed to his pension for the entirety of that duration ― he remains entitled to it no matter what happened in court on Thursday. As for the $250,000 settlement, there’s no doubt that he’s supposed to pay it back. But there is language in the settlement that says he only has to pay it back if he’s convicted of a felony within six years of the settlement date, and he’s allowed to exhaust the appeals process ― a process which could extend long past the six-year window.
  • What’s next for Lt. Derek Hahn and Officer Bobby Nguyen? They were found guilty, but both are still officially listed as employees of HPD.
    • Both are still employees of the department, but only because there is a process involved in their dismissal now that they’ve been convicted of multiple crimes. Convicted felons cannot carry weapons, which disqualifies them from being able to serve as police officers ― not to mention, they’re both going to prison. They’re both expected to remain on paid leave while the process involved in their dismissal works itself out.

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