Court report: Katherine Kealoha should spend more than a decade behind bars

Updated: Aug. 30, 2019 at 10:53 AM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A pre-sentence report from a federal probation officer recommends that former deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha be locked up for more than a decade.

The report considers the crimes she’s convicted of and her position of power.

Her attorney intends to argue it down.

“The government just piled it on,” said attorney Earle Partington, referring to the report.

In sentencing considerations, federal guidelines assign points to each crime and then allow for additional points depending on the defendant’s role, position, and the victim’s circumstances.

The report gave Kealoha 33 points, a score that carries a sentence of 135-168 months or 11-14 years.

In Kealoha’s case, 14 points were automatically assigned for the conspiracy and obstruction convictions.

She accrued additional points because of her power at the time of the crimes as a law enforcement official. Civil rights violations also increased her score as did her role as an organizer of the conspiracy.

In June, Kealoha was convicted of conspiracy and obstruction for framing her uncle, Gerard Puana, with the reported theft of her mailbox as retaliation for a civil lawsuit over money.

Her husband, ex-Police Chief Louis Kealoha, and two other Honolulu officers were also found guilty.

In addition to Kealoha’s uncle, the other victim in the case is Kealoha’s grandmother. Because she’s elderly, the vulnerable victim clause upped the total even more.

Kealoha is already being held at the federal detention center until her sentencing on Oct. 7.

Partington said he took the pre-sentence report to Kealoha for review before the two discuss ways to bring down the points.

“I’ve gotta go through it and see if I can whittle that down," Partington said, adding that some of the enhancements seem redundant. "These overlap and we’ll have to contest that.”

The prosecution and defense both have opportunities to object the findings of the report. Another report isn’t due until closer to sentencing.

And federal judge J. Michael Seabright will make the final decision.

Legal expert Victor Bakke said the judge’s discretion in sentencing could be key.

“She’s got to sell to the judge that she’s a person that’s worthy of a lower sentence than the guideline recommendations,” he said.

But Bakke believes Seabright will sentence Kealoha on the high end of the range, especially because she has not accepted responsibility for her actions.

“Judge Seabright is known to be a ‘guideline judge," Bakke said. "He’ll give credit where credit is due but if there’s nothing there, he’s not the type of judge to go looking for it or stretch a little bit.”

Partington agreed that it won’t be easy to bring down the points for his client.

“Judge Seabright has made it very clear that he intends to pile it on at sentencing in this case, so I think I’ve got an uphill battle," he said.

With no parole in the federal system, the most Kealoha can benefit from for good behavior is a reduction of about six weeks per year.

She also faces two other federal trials ― one for alleged financial crimes and another on drug charges.

The pre-sentence report for Louis Kealoha is due Friday, while reports for the two officers are expected in the coming weeks.

Copyright 2019 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.