HONOLULU (AP) — A former Honolulu prosecutor, convicted of conspiracy in Hawaii’s biggest corruption case that also took down her police chief husband, apologized for her actions in a handwritten letter to the judge Tuesday and blamed a prescription drug addiction for clouding her judgement.
Katherine Kealoha is scheduled to be sentenced Monday, along with her now-estranged husband, Louis Kealoha. A jury convicted them of conspiracy in a plot to frame a relative to keep him from revealing fraud that enriched the couple’s lavish lifestyle.
“I have no doubt that prison is my cross to bear, to atone for my sins and to open my mind to spiritual teachings far beyond anything I could have ever imagined,” she wrote, describing how being confined has given her “the courage to speak the truth about my life.”
Filed with her letter is a certificate for completing a drug abuse prevention program at the Honolulu Federal Detention Center. She had been abusing prescription medication since 2001, she wrote: “My abuse of prescription drugs was an addiction that clouded my judgment both personally and professionally.”
She also described being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, which she didn’t specify.
She wrote that she takes “full responsibility for the widespread destruction that I’ve caused, and I am not going to make any excuses for my behavior.”
But she also wrote that she forgives those “in this case that did not speak the truth.”
Prosecutors said the corruption included stealing from vulnerable victims — Katherine Kealoaha’s own grandmother and uncle — framing the uncle for a crime he didn’t commit, and using members of a secret police unit. All these actions were taken to cover up fraud that enriched the Kealohas and to maintain their status of prestige, prosecutors said.
The Kealohas were once a respected power couple before a curious case of a mailbox reported stolen from their home in a swanky neighborhood led to their downfall and cast a spotlight on alleged corruption in the city’s police force and prosecutor’s office.
Katherine Kealoha should go to prison for 14 years and her husband should be locked up for about half that time because the disgraced former power couple abused their positions of trust to commit corrupt acts at the highest levels of law enforcement, U.S. prosecutors wrote in sentencing recommendations.
In her letter, she asks for leniency for her husband and two former officers convicted with them.
“I took advantage of their friendships and of our relationships, and their only mistakes were in trusting me and associating with me,” she wrote, adding that her husband told her not to get involved with her family’s financial matters and stayed with her after her infidelity.
The case revealed that she spent some of the bilked money on her firefighter lover.
Louis Kealoha filed for divorce after they were convicted.