HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a handwritten letter to a federal judge ahead of her sentencing Monday, Katherine Kealoha asked for “mercy” for her husband ― ex-Police Chief Louis Kealoha ― and two officers also convicted following a massive public corruption trial.
In the five-page letter, Kealoha says she has been locked in her cell for 23 hours a day since April because of the pandemic and calls her time behind bars “my cross to bear.”
The former deputy city prosecutor also discussed her abuse of prescription drugs.
And she sought to convince the judge that she had come to understand the scope of her criminal behaviors.
“This case turned on the light to dispel the darkness in my life,” she wrote.
“I sincerely apologize for my conduct and actions and my poor judgments cannot be justified or minimized. I accept full responsibility for the widespread destruction.”
Kealoha asked the judge for leniency for her husband, whose sentencing is also scheduled Monday, and officers Derek Hahn and Bobby Nguyen. Their sentencing hearings are set for Tuesday.
“Louis, Derek and Bobby were dedicated officers who, despite the outcome of the trial, got caught up in my personal family dispute by no fault of their own,” Katherine Kealoha wrote.
She later added, “I am the only one who deserves to go to prison.”
Legal experts call her apology insincere.
“Honestly, I think her lawyer should have told her to go back and write it again,” said Ken Lawson.
University of Hawaii law instructor Ken Lawson’s story parallels Katherine’s – he spent time in federal prison on drug charges. He has now been sober for almost 14 years.
“It starts off trying to excuse her behavior based on drug addiction,” Lawson said.
It’s been more than a year and a half since a jury found Katherine Kealoha guilty of conspiracy and obstruction, and she’s been held behind bars ever since. She also pleaded guilty to financial crimes.
The case has been riddled with delays, mostly the result of Kealoha’s bizarre and questionable claims. COVID-19 and the election caused the sentencing date to be pushed back even further.
In 2013, the Kealohas framed Katherine’s uncle for a crime he did not commit. Katherine Kealoha stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from her grandmother Florence Puana. When Florence’s son, Katherine’s uncle Gerard Puana went public about the theft, the Kealohas and two officers staged a crime and blamed him for it.
“I think that her acceptance of responsibility is very superficial. I am dismayed that she doesn’t specifically address either of my clients, her grandmother or her uncle,” said Eric Seitz, Attorney for the Puana family. “What she did to people who were close to her is unforgivable.”