HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Katherine Kealoha refused to leave the Federal Detention Center on Friday morning for a court appearance.
US Magistrate Judge Wes Porter said in court that the former deputy city prosecutor was aware of the status conference and that she was supposed to be in court, but refused to attend.
Porter called the meeting to discuss a Hawaii News Now report that aired Tuesday, laying out a potential conflict of interest for Kealoha’s new court-appointed attorney, Gary Singh.
Singh will be representing Kealoha in two upcoming trials.
The first, on allegations of bank fraud and identity theft, is scheduled for January.
The next trial, for alleged drug crimes, is scheduled for May.
In court, Singh confirmed the report that he represented a witness against Kealoha ― a woman who was inside a McCully home when it was raided by Honolulu police officers.
That woman’s roommate, Tiffany Masunaga, and then Police Officer Alan Ahn were arrested and charged with possession of drugs, including a large amount of opioids.
The government said the opioids came from Kealoha’s brother, Dr. Rudy Puana, and that Kealoha took over prosecuting the case to cover up for him.
Singh told the court that he not only accompanied the woman to the grand jury proceeding in March 2018, but that he was also briefed on the case in a meeting with the woman.
Deputy U.S. Attorney Colin McDonald told the court that there were no plans to use the woman as a witness in the financial trial but admitted that he wasn’t sure yet if she would be called to the stand in the drug trial. McDonald said it was, “unlikely” at this point.
The judge sealed the rest of Friday’s hearing, kicking out the public and media to further discuss the woman’s role with the attorneys.
After about 10 minutes, everyone was allowed to return to the courtroom.
Porter ruled that Singh could remain counsel in both cases, but that waivers would need to signed by both Kealoha and the woman, and that the court could reevaluate should circumstances change.
Attorney William Harrison, who represents Tiffany Masunaga, calls that decision a potential disaster.
Harrison said Kealoha could claim, in the middle of trial, that the woman should be called to the stand on her behalf, and Singh would have a clear conflict because he has confidential information about that woman’s testimony.
Harrison says there are other scenarios that could also result in a mistrial or delay the case significantly.
“Should they need to have her to contradict something that’s come up in trial or assist in some way to get evidence, that creates an immediate, un-waivable conflict.”
Kealoha has already been convicted of obstruction and conspiracy and is being held at the Federal Detention Center until her sentencing in October.