Ahead of sentencing, ex-Police Chief Louis Kealoha pleads for leniency

Updated: Feb. 19, 2020 at 5:08 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Former Honolulu Police Chief and convicted felon Louis Kealoha believes he should spend less than three years for his crimes.

Kealoha’s attorney made the argument in a court document that his since been sealed, citing Kealoha’s “long and distinguished record of service and contribution to the community."

The document said Kealoha "served with distinction” for more than 30 years “before committing his offenses of conviction.”

Kealoha was found guilty last year of obstruction, conspiracy, identity theft and bank fraud.

The court filing shows Kealoha doesn’t believe he should be penalized for the bank fraud conviction because the bank was able to recoup the funds he and his wife illegally received.

He says the lien and then subsequent sale of their Hawaii Kai home replenished the funds they got using fraudulent documents.

Kealoha also points the finger at his wife Katherine, a former high-ranking deputy prosecutor.

“He and his family have suffered great embarrassment due to the extensive media coverage” of his and “his estranged spouse’s misconduct," the filing said. It also points to her "extramarital affair.”

Louis and Katherine Kealoha walk into the federal courthouse Monday as the third week of their...
Louis and Katherine Kealoha walk into the federal courthouse Monday as the third week of their public corruption trial kicks off. (Image: Hawaii News Now)

Kealoha knew about that affair long before the couple’s public corruption trial started in May 2019, even though the two showed up for court each day hand-in-hand.

In 2018, Jesse Ebersole pleaded guilty to lying to the federal grand jury to cover up a long-term affair with Katherine Kealoha ― an affair that was bankrolled using stolen money.

Another argument Louis Kealoha’s attorney makes in the court filing is that he has strong ties to his adult daughter and his elderly mother who will miss him while he’s incarcerated on the mainland.

The attorney adds: “Life in prison for law enforcement officers is fraught with more danger."

The federal probation office is recommending a sentence of about five years behind bars for Kealoha.

Legal expert Michael Green says the Kealohas’ abuse of their power will be a factor in the judge’s decision on whether to go above recommendations.

In addition to the Kealohas, two police officers who worked in a unit directly under Kealoha were convicted in the public corruption case. The group framed Katherine Kealoha’s uncle, Gerard Puana, for a crime he did not commit because Puana was going to expose her for ripping off his elderly mother, Florence Puana.

Florence Puana with her son Gerard Puana
Florence Puana with her son Gerard Puana

Puana was jailed and prosecuted for the fake crime.

At that trial, Louis Kealoha lied on the stand, under oath, then caused a mistrial. Puana’s public defender, Alexander Silvert, hopes the judge will also take that into consideration.

Silvert also said the judge can also consider that Florence Puana lost the family home because of the Kealohas’ fraudulent activities.

“There are real victims here," he said.

Silvert also pointed out that public statements and apologies by Louis Kealoha were aimed at friends and supporters, but the Puanas.

"They have consistently apologized to others and never to Gerard or his mother, I think that’s very, very telling.”

The combination will likely mean more prison time than the recommended guidelines for both Kealohas who are scheduled to be sentenced on March 17.

Michael Green said federal judges are often thorough and list their reasons for increased sentences.

Katherine Kealoha will get more time than her husband because she is also convicted of an additional felony crime, for not reporting alleged illegal activity committed by her brother, Rudolph Puana, who has his trial this summer.

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