An alleged victim in the case against former Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha and his deputy prosecutor wife, Katherine, pleaded guilty in federal court Friday.
Ransen Taito was charged with felony conspiracy after authorities claim he signed false documents and lied to a grand jury.
The federal case against the Kealohas claims Katherine Kealoha was in charge of more than $167,000 set aside for Taito and his younger sister as part of a medical malpractice settlement involving their father.
U.S. attorneys allege Katherine Kealoha misused that money to pay for personal expenses.
In court Friday, Taito told a federal judge the deputy prosecutor he knew as Aunty Kathy told him to lie to a grand jury and made him sign false documents to cover it up.
According to court documents, Katherine Kealoha “would prepare false and misleading documents, and direct Taito to sign such documents, in order to make it appear that the funds previously held for Taito and (his sister’s) benefit in the Trust Accounts had already been paid to them.”
According to Taito’s attorney, Michael Green, Katherine Kealoha told Taito and his sister that she gave the money to their mother.
“She made him suspect their mother, because their mother had drug issues,” Green claimed. “So they were looking at their mother who stole their money, and they said, ‘You know what, she’s our mom. She can steal our money.'”
Taito testified in court that when he was subpoenaed by the FBI in 2016 to testify to the grand jury, Kealoha told him to say that he and his sister already received the money. If they didn’t, their mother would go to jail.
He said later that day, Kealoha met with them and made him sign several documents saying they received the money, even using different colored ink to make it look like they were done at different times.
“At what point did Mr. Saito decide to plead guilty to this and why?” KHON2 asked.
“When he actually found out that his mother didn’t get his money, and that he had committed this kind of a crime, they came to see me. They were really upset,” Green said following Friday’s court appearance. “The reckoning of seeing that they were lied to from the beginning by Aunty Kathy, someone that they cared about. They thought that she really cared about them, so it’s been really bad for them.”
Taito faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 30.
Green says he doesn’t think Taito will get prison time, because he is seen more as a victim in this case.
Green also says Taito is expected to testify against the Kealohas if they go on trial.
“He wants to tell the truth. His sister wants to tell the truth, and they’re going to,” Green said.