Katherine Kealoha’s relatives point to her conviction in bid for new civil trial

Published: Aug. 26, 2019 at 10:39 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Florence Puana celebrated her 100th birthday this weekend, one day after her attorney filed a motion asking for a new civil trial against her granddaughter, Katherine Kealoha, who was convicted in a massive public corruption trial earlier this year.

While Kealoha, a former high-ranking deputy prosecutor, was found guilty in federal court, she famously won the 2015 civil suit filed against her in state court by members of her family.

A jury awarded Kealoha $658,000.

Puana and her son, Gerard Puana, had accused Kealoha of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from them ― allegations they say were substantiated in the criminal trial against Kealoha.

[Read more: She was identified as a victim in the case against the Kealohas, but was forced to pay legal fees]

The motion says that federal case was won because Kealoha committed fraud in state court.

And it uses evidence from this year’s federal criminal trial as proof.

In June, Kealoha was convicted of conspiracy and obstruction, along with her husband, ex-Police Chief Louis Kealoha, and two other Honolulu police officers. The jury ruled they framed Gerard Puana for the reported theft of the Kealoha mailbox as retaliation for the civil suit.

The Kealohas leave federal court after learning of their guilty verdicts (Image: Hawaii News Now)
The Kealohas leave federal court after learning of their guilty verdicts (Image: Hawaii News Now)

Federal prosecutors said Kealoha lied on the stand and used forged documents notarized by a fictitious person named Alison Lee Wong ― all to win in state court.

“I was trying to tell the truth and they weren’t,” Gerard Puana said, of the days he spent on the stand as the Kealohas’ civil attorney, Kevin Sumida, cross-examined him.

Sumida is also now under FBI investigation for allegedly lying under oath.

HNN legal expert Ken Lawson said the Puanas have a solid argument for a reversal in the civil case.

“Based on what we found out through the criminal process and by (the Kealohas) putting Kevin Sumida on the stand, there was huge fraud committed in the civil trial," he said.

Lawson believes the court will grant the Puanas a new trial.

A hearing on the motion is set for Sept. 13 in state court.

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