Mailbox Trial: Hawaiian Scandal Unravels with Guilty Verdicts

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Honolulu, Hawaii’s Ex-Police Chief & his Wife, a Deputy City Prosecutor weave a singular story of corruption, abuse of authority, greed and pettiness rattling the law enforcement community nationwide

In one of Hawaii’s most closely watch case, the law enforcement power couple Louis and Katherine Kealoha were found guilty of by a jury of their peer, late on Thursday evening. It only took nine hours of jury deliberation to render the guilty verdict – a lightening fast conclusion to a most bizarre corruption scandal, ten years in the making.

Katherine Kealoha, a former deputy city prosecutor, had attempted to malign her uncle, Gerard Puana, and hurt his reputation by framing him with theft of her mailbox hoping to discredit him in an ongoing financial dispute. Katerine’s husband, Ex-Police Chief Louis Kealoha’s founded an elite criminal intelligence unit involving many other officers to abet in, what has earned the popular moniker, MAILBOX TRIAL ,

“For over a decade, Katherine Kealoha has repeatedly flaunted the law, leaving countless victims in her wake. She cannot now — as she must — establish by ‘clear and convincing’ evidence that she is not likely to flee or pose a danger to the safety of any other person or the community,”

Prosecution argument in a court motion requesting Mrs. Kealoha’s remand

Following the verdict, the prosecution has moved to remand Katherine Kealoha, be held in custody ahead of sentencing in October. The prosecution contends in the court motion that Kealoha has already proven that she will “do anything and everything to avoid the consequences for her unlawful behavior.” Continuing further in a blistering indictment of former deputy prosecutor, “For over a decade, Katherine Kealoha has repeatedly flaunted the law, leaving countless victims in her wake. She cannot now — as she must — establish by ‘clear and convincing’ evidence that she is not likely to flee or pose a danger to the safety of any other person or the community,” the government argued. The motion will be heard in court on Friday.

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Mailbox Trial – Sifting For Magazines, Auction Invites & Court Summons

While the MAILBOX TRIAL itself has been short-lived but the Kealohas power couple has been in the limelight for years now. So, the eerie feeling you get of knowing them is well-grounded in reality. The case revolved the reported theft, six years ago, of the Kealohas’ mailbox at their former Kahala home. The Kealohas accused their Puana of the federal crime.

At the time of the conspiracy, Kealoha was a high-ranking deputy city prosecutor and Louis Kealoha headed up the Honolulu Police Department. Their three co-defendants, former or current officers, in the case were part of an elite police unit. Officers Derek Hahn and Bobby Nguyen, were found guilty of conspiracy and attempted obstruction of an official proceeding. Retired Maj. Gordon Shiraishi was the lone defendant found not guilty in the case.

The Kealohas used those “secret police” to force their personal agenda abusing the powers of their offices to hammer their challengers with the heavy hand of the law. But the lavish lifestyle kept bringing up such challengers, publicly or in private. And that’s where the roots of the MAILBOX TRIAL lie – almost a decade back. Those were years that the Kealohas lived well beyond their means. They lived in a $2 million Kahala home, drove flashy cars and threw lavish parties. Around the same time, in 2007, Mrs. Kealoha became a trustee for Gerard and Florence Puana – her uncle and her grandmother. This gave Kealoha access to about $200,000.

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Finally Puana’s patient ran dry, and six years later, they sued her, alleging she’d drained the bank account dry. That civil lawsuit would set off a bizarre chain of events. Mrs. Kealoha, in a bid to destroy her relatives’ credibility before the suit went to trial. And thus disappeared the Kealohas mailbox in June, 2013; they identified the man stealing their mailbox as Gerard.

“The evidence will show that to discredit Gerard Puana they would frame him with a federal offense. He’s a thief. He stole our mailbox,” special Prosecutor Michael Wheat told the jury, in his opening statements. “The goal was to discredit Gerard Puana … to make him a felon so that his testimony (in the civil suit) would be suspect.”

More Summons in the Mailbox

Remarkably, at the time, we have only uncovered on of three potential trials for the former deputy prosecutor and two for her Chief of Police husband. They are both also charged with financial fraud for lying to banks to get mortgages and other loans. Mrs. Kealoha is also charged with her physician brother – Rudy Puana – in a drug conspiracy case – those trials are scheduled for later this year.

The cases were never about a mailbox but how the Kealohas used their positions to exact retribution against their enemies, and how the three officers participated in the conspiracy.

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“It’s a far-fetched conspiracy theory that’s very strange, bizarre, complicated, doesn’t make any sense.”

Ali Wert, defense attorney for Kealohas

“The motives in this case are greed, to maintain prestige and power. The chief of police and a prosecutor,” said Prosecutor Joseph Orabona, in closing arguments. On the other hand, Ali Wert, argued for Defense team that government’s case was based on circumstantial evidence. “This theory about a frame job has no evidence,” he said. “It’s a far-fetched conspiracy theory that’s very strange, bizarre, complicated, doesn’t make any sense.”

Well, we concur! Attorney Wert is spot on in his analysis.Enumerating victims of Kealohas would take ages; they have not only hurt people but government institutions and our trust in them. One such victim in all of this is former Executive Director of the City Ethics Commission Chuck Totto.

“I’m going to tell you something and I hope the public will take this correctly, but I have to say this case and the way I was treated at the Ethics Commission provided me with never-ending depression,” Totto said.

— Statement released by the office of Honolulu Chief of Police on jury verdict

Totto was the first to launch an investigation into the Kealohas after getting tipped by insiders that the couple were misusing city resources. In retaliation, the power couple filed seven complaints and a civil lawsuit against Totto. Eventually, he resigned and the civil suit was dismissed last year.

For all the damage Kealohas have caused, there is no chance in h3ll one could consider reformative justice for their crimes; it’s time for retributive justice, if there was any. It’s not clear how much time the Kealohas face in prison, but the obstruction charge alone carries a 20-year maximum sentence. The sentences will most likely run concurrently, but in the federal system there is no parole.

We, at SNN, will be looking forward to that!

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