Judge: Louis Kealoha wasn’t conspiracy’s mastermind, but he had a starring role

Updated: Nov. 30, 2020 at 4:10 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - During trial and even during his sentencing hearing Monday, defense attorneys sought to paint Louis Kealoha as unaware of many of his wife’s schemes.

He was the doting husband caught up in an unfortunate series of events ― all orchestrated by his wife.

Judge Michael Seabright wasn’t buying it.

Before telling Kealoha that he would be spending seven years behind bars for his role in one of the biggest corruption scandals in Hawaii history, Seabright reminded the ex-police chief that he was the man with the title and the power. His wife was a high-ranking deputy city prosecutor, but only Louis Kealoha ― as the head of HPD ― could order members of an elite police unit to do his bidding.

Seabright agreed that Katherine Kealoha was undoubtedly the mastermind of the conspiracy.

She was the one who decided to frame her uncle with a federal crime ― all to hide her financial fraud. But Louis Kealoha could’ve put the brakes on, Seabright said.

Instead, he participated in the scheme to have an innocent man sent to jail.

“The chief of police of a major American city worked overtime to frame a person with a crime he did not commit. The oath didn’t matter,” Seabright told Kealoha, during the sentencing hearing.

“This truly is a case where the truth seems to be stranger than fiction.”

He added that Kealoha’s actions ― not just his wife’s ― have shaken the confidence of public institutions, including of the Honolulu Police Department.

“The breadth of this criminal conduct is astonishing. It reached the highest levels of our city government and that included you,” Seabright said.

And he said that while Kealoha may not have known the full extent of Katherine Kealoha’s financial crimes, he must have known something was up.

Their public servant salaries simply could not have funded their lavish lifestyle, with luxury cars and a Kahala home and outrageous parties.

“If there’s one thing I can say about you Mr. Kealoha is you’re a smart guy,” Seabright said.

“At some level, you may have stuck your head in the sand. But it’s hard to believe you didn’t know serious trouble was brewing.”

In the courtroom, Kealoha did apologize to his victims and to the public, saying he is ashamed of what he’s done. “I failed to live up to the standards I set for myself,” he said. “I am truly sorry.”

After leaving the federal courthouse, Kealoha declined to comment further ― other than to thank his supporters, including family members who had attended the sentencing hearing.

“I respect the judge’s decision and it’s time to move on,” he said.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s not clear when Kealoha will be sent to prison. Seabright directed Kealoha to surrender himself to authorities as early as April.

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