Kealoha corruption victim says settlement brings closure, adds safeguards are need to prevent abuse
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kealoha victim Gerard Puana said his portion of a city settlement for $2.85 million will help him move forward ― 14 years after a family feud left him broke and sent him to jail.
“I’m so happy right now that everything is behind me,” Puana said, of the deal that is pending Council approval.
Puana and his late mother Florence Puana’s estate will split the money from the city, which was deemed liable for the crimes of ex-Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife Katherine, a former deputy city prosecutor.
The Kealohas are in prison for conspiracy, bank fraud and other crimes.
They stole from the Puana family, forcing Florence to sell the family home.
They also framed Puana for a felony theft.
“A civil case is not only about making the victims whole, which is what this money does, but it’s also about addressing the issues that caused the problem in the first place,” said Alexander Silvert, Puana’s former attorney.
Silvert said the city has not taken any steps to prevent a repeat scheme.
“They’ve done no investigation,” Silvert said, adding the oversights groups in place ― including the Ethics Commission and Police Commission ― failed in their watchdog roles.
Silvert wants a committee established to study the agencies and investigate the Kealoha case.
“Without addressing it, it’s going to happen again,” he said.
A spokesman for the city said he could not comment because council members still need to approve the settlement. The civil attorney for the city who handled the negotiations said she would push for that approval.
Puana said the money will go a long way toward getting his life back.
Copyright 2023 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.