Defrauded siblings say they trusted former prosecutor

HONOLULU — A man whose $170,000 family trust was stolen by former Honolulu deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha said Kealoha coached him to lie to a grand jury that he received his money even though he hadn’t.

Ransen Taito said Kealoha told him if he didn’t do as she said, U.S. law enforcement officials would arrest his mother because his mother stole the money.

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In fact, Kealoha was the one who pilfered the money set aside for Taito and his younger sister. She used it to secure home loans, pay off credit cards and buy plane tickets for the Big Island firefighter with whom she had an affair.

Kealoha and her husband, retired Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha, pleaded guilty to bank fraud in U.S. District Court in Honolulu last week as part of an agreement with federal prosecutors. Their pleas came after a jury in June convicted them of framing her uncle to keep him from revealing fraud that financed their lavish lifestyle.

Taito recounted how he and his sister grew to trust Katherine Kealoha after their father died in 2004 and she became the trustee for money their father received in response to a medical malpractice lawsuit. Taito was 12 years old at the time.

Kealoha didn’t tell the siblings the amount kept in trust.

Through the years, Taito said Kealoha became simply known as ‘Aunty Kat’ and was always there to help them. She would take them out to eat, buy them school supplies and clothes and even gave him $5,000 to buy his first car when he was a teenager.

In January 2018, Taito pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to obstruct for lying to the grand jury. He’s due to be sentenced next month.

Taito said he felt like his chance to face Kealoha in court was taken from him when she pleaded guilty.

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“I wanted to confront her about everything,” Taito said, “I don’t think she could look me in the eye and tell me, ‘I stole your money. I stole you and your sister’s money. I lied to you guys about your mom.’ I don’t think she could do that.”

The federal government seized one of the Kealohas’ homes and money left over from the sale will go to the Taitos. While it’s something, it’s a fraction of what their father left them when he died.

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