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13-year sentence in Hawaii corruption case

HONOLULU — A U.S. judge sentenced a former high-ranking Honolulu prosecutor to 13 years in prison Monday, saying she stole money from her own grandmother and used her husband’s position as a police chief to frame her uncle for a crime he didn’t commit — all to maintain her lavish lifestyle.

Katherine and Louis Kealoha, now estranged, were once a respected power couple. Louis Kealoha, who agreed to retire amid the wide-ranging federal investigation, is scheduled to be sentenced later Monday in a separate hearing.

“This case has staggered the community in many ways,” U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright said, describing 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 physician brother.

“Truth can be stranger than fiction,” the judge said.

Her lawyer asked for a sentence of eight years, while prosecutors sought 14 years.

A jury convicted the Kealohas last year of conspiracy, along with two former officers who are scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday.

To avoid a second trial, the Kealohas later pleaded guilty to bank fraud, saying they provided false information to obtain loans.

Katherine Kealoha, 51, also pleaded guilty to an identity theft charge, saying she got a police officer to forge a police report she used to explain negative information on a credit report. She also pleaded guilty to a charge that involved protecting her brother from the drug investigation.

In a letter to the judge, she blamed a prescription drug addiction for clouding her judgement.

“My client was on drugs, her mind was not clear and she did a lot of bad things,” her lawyer, Gary Singh, said in court.

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