Grandmother Who Helped Convict Honolulu Power Couple Dies

Feb 13, 2020

HONOLULU — The grandmother of a former Honolulu deputy city prosecutor who was at the center of a federal corruption case has died.

Family attorney Eric Seitz said in an email to The Associated Press that Florence Puana died at her home Thursday morning. She was 100.

Puana is the grandmother of Katherine Kealoha, who led a unit in the Honolulu prosecutor's office that focused on career criminals. Kealoha and her retired Honolulu police chief husband Louis Kealoha were accused of defrauding relatives, banks and children to maintain a lavish lifestyle.

The testimony of Florence Puana was "central to establishing one of the motives behind the charged conspiracy," prosecutors said in court documents.

Katherine Kealoha stole money from her grandmother and uncle and when they threatened to expose the fraud, Kealoha tried to have her grandmother declared incapacitated and framed her uncle for a crime he did not commit, prosecutors said.

The couple pleaded guilty to bank fraud in October in order to avoid other trials against them, capping a federal corruption investigation that brought down the once-respected and powerful couple. The pleas followed their conviction in June in the plot to frame the uncle.

Katherine Kealoha also pleaded guilty to an identity theft charge, saying she got a police officer to forge a police report. She also pleaded guilty to a charge involving protecting her brother from a drug-dealing investigation.