HONOLULU — A U.S. judge sentenced a former high-ranking Honolulu prosecutor to 13 years in prison Monday and her retired police chief husband to seven years, saying she stole money from her own grandmother and then used his law enforcement power to frame her uncle for a crime he didn’t commit — all to maintain the couple’s lavish lifestyle.
Katherine and Louis Kealoha, now estranged, were once a respected power couple. Louis Kealoha agreed to retire amid a wide-ranging federal investigation. She later gave up her law license.
“This case has staggered the community in many ways,” U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright said.
He described how Katherine Kealoha orchestrated a reverse mortgage scheme that forced her grandmother to sell her home, framed her uncle for stealing the Kealohas’ home mailbox, stole money from children whose trusts she controlled as a lawyer, cheated her uncle out of his life savings, convinced her firefighter lover to lie about their affair and used her position as a prosecutor to turn a drug investigation away from her doctor brother.
“Truth can be stranger than fiction,” the judge said at Katherine Kealoha’s sentencing.
Later, he told Louis Kealoha that while his wife was the mastermind, “you did master the frame job that followed,” and the scheme couldn’t have succeeded without the Honolulu Police Department.
A jury convicted the Kealohas last year of conspiracy, along with two former officers who are scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday.
The case is especially shocking, Seabright said, because of the role a police chief of a “major American city,” played.
“Think about that, the chief of police of one of the largest police departments in the country … swears to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” and lies, the judge said of Louis Kealoha’s false testimony at the trial of his wife’s uncle for stealing the couple’s mailbox. The trial ended in a mistrial that prosecutors say the then-chief caused on purpose to thwart the investigation.
The Kealohas later pleaded guilty to bank fraud, saying they provided false information to obtain loans.
They went to great lengths to maintain a lifestyle they couldn’t afford on public servant salaries, the judge said.