A lot’s happened in the year since the story of the curious case of the former Honolulu police chief’s missing mailbox was published in BC Law Magazine. At press time in late May, the disgraced husband-and-wife team of chief Louis Kealoha and top city prosecutor Katherine Kealoha went on trial with three current and former Honolulu police officers for allegedly framing Katherine’s nephew, Gerard Puana, for theft of their mailbox in 2013.
Almost immediately after a mistrial was declared in the 2014 trial for the alleged theft, Puana’s defense attorney, Alexander Silvert ’84 (above), was able to persuade the Department of Justice it was all an elaborate ruse, but it took until 2019 to bring the case to court.
On May 31, Silvert took the witness stand and argued that Puana was framed by the Kealohas in an attempt to discredit him in a lawsuit he and his elderly mother, Florence Puana, had filed against Katherine saying she stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from them via shady investments and a reverse mortgage scheme. Silvert explained how he uncovered the scandal, one in which Honolulu police officers falsified documents, performed secret surveillance of his client, and lied to federal investigators.
The family drama was just the beginning. Federal prosecutors say they’ve uncovered a wide webof corruption and abuse of power deep within Hawaii government linked to the Kealohas. More indictments are expected.
The state’s top elected prosecutor, Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro, is now a named target of the DOJ’s criminal probe as is the Honolulu mayor’s top municipal lawyer Donna Leong. A separate indictment has Katherine Kealoha and her younger brother, Rudolph Puana, an anesthesiologist, running an illicit prescription drug ring in part to fuel their own cocaine habits.
The Kealohas face a second trial in October for a series of alleged financial crimes, including bank fraud. Katherine Kealoha’s trial on drug charges is scheduled for January 2020.