Katherine Kealoha cleared of ethics claims despite charges

HONOLULU — The attorney for the man who filed an ethics complaint against embattled lawyer and Honolulu Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha has called for the removal of the leader of the Office of Disciplinary Counsel because he cleared Kealoha of wrongdoing.

Gerard Puana’s attorney, Eric Seitz, said the office made a mistake in clearing Kealoha, Hawaii News Now reported Tuesday.

“It’s just incredible,” Seitz said. “How can anyone say based on the public record that she didn’t likely commit ethical violations?”

A federal grand jury in October indicted Kealoha on conspiracy, obstruction of justice and fraud charges. Her husband, former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha, faces similar public corruption and fraud charges. The Kealohas pleaded not guilty.

Katherine Kealoha’s attorney Cynthia Kagiwada could not be reached for comment.

Chief Disciplinary Counsel Bruce Kim released a statement on Jan. 8 explaining the office’s decision. He said the office was unable to determine by clear and convincing evidence that an ethical violation occurred.

Counsel for the Disciplinary Board Bradley Tamm, however, told Hawaii News Now after Kim’s decision that the investigation is still on hold.

“As criminal proceedings against Hawaii lawyer Katherine Kealoha are pending in the federal court, the Disciplinary Board has stayed its investigation against the lawyer pending disposition of the criminal case,” Tamm said. “Presently, Ms. Kealoha is on voluntary inactive status, and thus should not be engaged in the current practice of law. Once the criminal matter is decided, the investigation hold will be lifted and ODC will be directed to proceed pursuant to the Rules of the Hawaii Supreme Court.”

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Information from: KGMB-TV, http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/

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