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Couple Masterminds a Reverse Mortgage Scheme

Louis and Katherine Kealoha used the stolen money to fund their lavish lifestyle

spinner image illustration of a couple with a Hawaiian background and large 100 dollar bills behind them

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Full Transcript

[00:00:02] Bob: How could a simple mailbox theft unravel an entire police department, in fact, the entire law enforcement establishment in a major US city? Well, the story of Katherine and Louis Kealoha must be heard to be believed. This power couple of Honolulu, he’s the police chief, she’s a top prosecutor there, were living a seemingly charmed life in the island paradise. But when their expensive lifestyle, they lived in Kahala, the Beverly Hills of Honolulu, catches up with their bank account, they go looking for creative ways to shore up their finances. Katherine thinks she can take advantage of her uncle, Gerard Puana, and his mom, Florence Puana, a woman in her 90s. Florence and Gerard don’t have much but they live on a very valuable piece of property. And that gives Katherine an idea, a dark idea, that would eventually lead to that mailbox theft and a dramatic courtroom scene and well, like I said, you have to hear this story to believe it. So we’ve dug into the archives for the next two weeks so we can share again with you one of our favorite stories, Honolulu’s Power Couple. Sometimes, people who seem powerless, find their strength in the truth.


[00:01:26] Bob: Welcome back to The Perfect Scam. I'm your host Bob Sullivan. Today's story brings us to the Pacific paradise of Hawaii, to the island of Oahu and the capital city of Honolulu where the peaceful breezes and the peaceful people make this place a little slice of heaven for mainlanders who visit on vacation. And in this paradise, we'll begin with a celebration, a luncheon, a huge feast back in 2009 to mark the rise of a favorite son to the rank of police chief, Louis Kealoha. It seems all of Honolulu is proud that a native-born Hawaiian will lead the force and there's a big party. By his side is his wife, Katherine Kealoha, a high-ranking prosecutor in the city. They are Honolulu's power couple. Chief Kealoha even gets along with journalists. Reporter Lynn Kawano got to know the Chief pretty well through the year. And we catch up with her in her busy newsroom.

[00:02:26] Lynn Kawano: They're extremely popular, and you know, I, I had a great relationship with Louie Kealoha, the Police Chief. He's very charismatic, he's a smart man, and he really was able to draw people in. He was almost a politician as much as a police chief. This was a couple highly revered in the community. People really looked up to them as, as leaders and as Native Hawaiians, they were role models for many people.

[00:02:54] Bob: But the couple seems to be riding their popularity to prosperity. Katherine keeps rising through the ranks of the prosecutor's office, and within a couple of years, she's the third highest ranking official there. The Kealohas are living a dream life with a beautiful home in an area many people call the Beverly Hills of Honolulu. There's even a Maserati and a Mercedes in the driveway.

[00:03:17] Lynn Kawano: This is a very exclusive neighborhood. It's called Kahala, and it is a beautiful section of the island, very nice homes, homes that most people would not be able to afford in Hawaii.

[00:03:32] Bob: Then one day, four years after that lovely celebration luncheon, there's a strange theft in Kahala. A mailbox theft. The Police Chief's home is targeted. Security video shows someone driving up to the Chief's home late at night, hopping out, and lifting the Police Chief's mailbox right off the post and driving away. This doesn't seem to be much of a disturbance though, more of an open and shut case. There's video. The suspect is apprehended quickly. He can't afford an attorney, so a public defender is assigned to him. To the surprise of many, the suspect refuses to plead guilty, so the curious case of the Police Chief Mailbox Theft goes to trial. Reporter Lynn Kawano was assigned to cover the trial, and she's pretty annoyed.

[00:04:19] Lynn Kawano: When my boss told me to go cover a stolen mailbox, I think I cussed at him. I think I said, that was absolutely ridiculous. I'm 20 years into the business by now, and you want me to cover a stolen mailbox? That wasn't something that I thought was newsworthy. I really did have a bad attitude going into that courtroom thinking this is ridiculous. I can't believe I'm here on a stolen mailbox, even if it is the Police Chief's. You know, I, I'm sure the Police Chief has had things stolen before, and had his house vandalized, and we never covered these trials the way we were covering this.

[00:04:57] Bob: But on the very first day of the trial, things so sideways fast. Chief Kealoha, the second witness says the defendant has a prior arrest; a rookie mistake that even a first year detective wouldn't make in court. Prior allegations aren't admissible evidence unless that is arranged with the judge ahead of time. The defense attorney slams his fist on the desk and demands a mistrial. The judge calls for a break. Kawano is stunned.

[00:05:24] Lynn Kawano: The fact that a police chief, who had likely testified dozens of times before in his long career as a police chief, someone how had a PhD, someone who was well-versed in law enforcement to do that, and to say what he said, it just didn't seem right for me. And, and that was the moment for me where I realized, you know, maybe something's wrong with this case.

[00:05:51] Bob: In the chaotic scene afterwards, the defendant chases down Lynn Kawano.

[00:05:56] Lynn Kawano: And as I was walking out of the courtroom, that day after Louie Kealoha threw the trial, Gerard Puana came up to me and very politely said, "I did not steal that mailbox." And I told him, I said, "You, you need to talk to your lawyer before you talk to me, but I'm happy to talk to you later." I knew in his voice that he was desperate, he was telling me he didn't do it. That was my first meeting with Gerard Puana.

[00:06:28] Bob: For much of Hawaii, this is their first meeting with Gerard Puana too. A mistrial is declared soon after this dramatic courtroom moment. As the prosecution looks at whether or not to ask for a retrial, Kawano and the rest of Hawaii start to look closer at the curious case of the Police Chief's mailbox theft, and something quickly becomes apparent. Gerard Puana is no ordinary defendant. Gerard Puana is related to the Police Chief. Katherine Kealoha, the Chief's wife, is Gerard's niece, and there's more. Gerard's mom, who is Katherine's grandmother, is involved in a civil dispute with Katherine. Florence Puana, a woman in her 90s has accused her granddaughter, Katherine, the city's high-ranking prosecutor of essentially stealing the equity in her home through a reverse mortgage. It seems there might be very large secrets hiding inside this small mailbox, much more to this story, and much more to the alleged criminal, Gerard Puana, and his mom, Florence. Reporter Lynn Kawano sets out to learn the rest of the story, and now, so will we.

[00:07:37] Gerard Puana: She was my pastor, my doctor, my teacher, you know, she was my best friend.

[00:07:44] Bob: Gerard is amazed at his mom's life. She lived to be 100 years old. When I spoke to him, it was the one-year anniversary of her death.

[00:07:54] Gerard Puana: She was an angel of God. Just didn't have any hate in her heart. It was just love. And she meant good, really a strong Catholic. She had nine children. I'm the youngest of nine.

[00:08:05] Bob: Gerard's father was a plumber, and to help make room for all those kids, he built the family a home in the 1950s. The couple lived there until Gerard's father died about 20 years ago.

[00:08:16] Gerard Puana: I promised my father on his deathbed to stay with mom. We had lived in that house for, since 1956, that was our home, and uh I promised him that I would take care of her. Back in 2002, he passed away, and um, I told him I would stay with Mom. So we were a team.

[00:08:35] Bob: So Gerard lives with his mom for several years, takes care of odd tasks and keeps up with the rest of the family including his niece, Katherine Kealoha, a shining star of the city. In addition to her high-powered job in the prosecutor's office, she takes care of finances for many people in her orbit, too. She was put in charge of trust funds for a 10 and 12-year-old child whose father had died. So, when Katherine gets wind that Florence wants to help Gerard buy a condo nearby so he has his own place, it's not a surprise that Katherine has an idea about how to handle the finances in a way she says would benefit everyone.

[00:09:11] Gerard Puana: We put her on this pedestal because she was uh, the only one in the family that actually was a professional, like an attorney. She was very educated. So Katherine approached us, 'cause I was looking for an apartment to get. As I was staying with Mom, I saved quite a bit of money, so I was looking to get an apartment and just rent it out, let it pay for itself, and continue living with Mom.

[00:09:39] Bob: Katherine suggests Florence take out a reverse mortgage on her home, use some of the cash to buy the condo and share the rest with her so she and the Chief can pay off some bills. It's 2009, right about the time that big party takes place for the new police chief, that big expensive party. The tab was almost $24,000.

[00:09:59] Gerard Puana: "The deal is, we can do this without any of the family knowing and um, and I'll have it paid off within 6 months. I can pay off the reverse mortgage, Uncle Gerry will have his apartment, he could rent it out, stay with you, take care of you like he's doing, you would be helping Louis and I, too, because you know, at the same time." She was very convincing, and we really, really respected her and, and believed in her and trusted her wholeheartedly.

[00:10:30] Bob: Florence Puana, speaking before she died, remembers her granddaughter encouraging this kind of trust.

[00:10:37] Florence Puana: She gave me this paper, and I said, "Now, Kathy, what am I signing this paper for?" And she said, "Grandma, I told you to trust me." She said, "This is for the reverse mortgage." So I signed it.

[00:10:55] Bob: So Florence borrows more than $500,000 in a reverse mortgage and let's Katherine follow through on her plan. Everything seems fine at first. Gerard gets the condo and sends loans payments to his niece, Katherine. Katherine pays off her bills, and she tells Gerard and Florence that the reverse mortgage is taken care of. But then, bank statements start to arrive showing the balance on the loan is going up, not down.

[00:11:22] Gerard Puana: So we asked Kathy, um, "We're getting these statements coming to the house that says you owe this much," you know, and she goes, "Oh, you don't, you don't owe anything actually, but I'm, you know, I'm working on paying it off."

[00:11:36] Bob: Months go by, and the family is still concerned as Katherine becomes harder and harder to connect with. When she gets the chance, Florence asks her granddaughter a more direct question.

[00:11:48] Florence Puana: She came to my home, finally came to my home after I tried and tried to get a hold of her. And she finally came to the home, and there was my daughter, Caroline, and my son, Gerard, and I. We were there, and she came. And she said, "Now, Katherine, did you pay off the reverse mortgage?" And she was angry and said, "I told you guys that the reverse mortgage is paid off." But she got the mail going to her.

[00:12:26] Bob: The statements stopped. Katherine has the mail redirected to her house, but one day, more trouble. There's a small flood at the Puana's home, and when Gerard calls the insurance company to make a claim, the broker confirms, there is a sizeable reverse mortgage still on the house. Where did the $500,000 go? And where are Gerard's mortgage payments going? Florence doesn't want to hear any more excuses. She wants answers, but she just can't get Katherine on the phone.

[00:12:56] Florence Puana: I couldn't ever get a hold of her. And I called my, her mother, and I, I told her mother I was very concerned, and she said, "Why are you concerned?" And I said, "I need this money because I promised my husband that in time, after I'm gone, I was going to sell the house and split the money among my children." And she said, "Do not call here anymore, because Kathy is very busy." So that's the response I got. I called her and all I could hear is the strumming of an ukulele.

[00:13:45] Bob: Brimming with frustration at hearing her granddaughter's voicemail greeting over and over, she decides to write to her granddaughter instead.

[00:13:53] Gerard Puana: Mother wrote her a letter just saying, "I trusted you. You said that you would pay it off, and you said you did. Um, and you didn't." And now there's this huge mortgage on the house, you know, and um, my monthly payment was something like $3700 something like that.

[00:14:12] Bob: Oh my God.

[00:14:13] Bob: Katherine's response to that letter is swift.

[00:14:15] Gerard Puana: Katherine responded by a 16-page letter saying that she's going to, "you'll rue the day" that we spread these lies about her.

[00:14:23] Bob: Three years after taking out that reverse mortgage, faced with an ever-growing loan balance, and now in need of real legal help, Florence makes the painful decision to sell her house, the house her husband had built for her with his own hands and where she lived for more than 50 years. Gerard says Florence has to do that because she needs the money. She has almost nothing left and uses the small proceeds from the sale to pay for an attorney.

[00:14:53] Bob: That was your childhood home, 'cause your mom had lived there forever. I'm, I'm sorry, that must have been really painful to have to leave.

[00:15:00] Gerard Puana: Thank you, yeah. Yeah, it's really hard talking about that.

[00:15:04] Bob: So the Puanas start to explore their legal options, but there's also the emotional toll of finding out that a family member, a granddaughter, a niece might have done this horrible thing to the family matriarch.

[00:15:17] Gerard Puana: Well, sickening actually. Felt really sickening, just all different emotions. First, you're kind of sick, and then you get really angry and then disappointed, just again, sick again because of the just wondering what, why would she do this? Why would she do this?

[00:15:36] Bob: And remember, they aren't just taking on Florence's granddaughter, they are deciding to fight against a powerful prosecutor who is married to the Police Chief, and by now, they are wondering who paid for that lavish luncheon back when the Chief was hired? Who's paying for that Maserati and that fancy home in Kahala? So they make the difficult decision to sue for elder financial abuse.


[00:16:04] Bob: Right about then, Gerard starts to get the paranoid feeling that he's being followed all the time. It feels like he's always noticing police cars in his rearview mirror. Then one day...

[00:16:17] Gerard Puana: I was um, picked up my girlfriend, and we were going to, to mass at St. Peter & Paul, 5:30 mass, and we're surrounded, guns drawn and just terrifying, terrifying for, for my girlfriend and myself.

[00:16:34] Bob: So what was it like, the TV thing where you're driving in your car and then suddenly five police cars show up and surround you?

[00:16:40] Gerard Puana: Yeah, I was, I was parking the car. As I was parking the car, and started reversing the car back into a stall, they suddenly came from all angles. One van, a little Honda Civic, I mean it was all just, you know, civilian type of cars, yeah, and then just like, "hands on the steering wheel" and the whole nine yards.


[00:17:06] Bob: Gerard Puana is arrested and charged with stealing the Police Chief's mailbox. There's video evidence, he's told, he might as well plead guilty. He's assigned a public defender, Alexander Silvert. Silvert is near retirement and he's seen everything. He takes the case because he's afraid Gerard will get railroaded into a maximum sentence because of the high profile victim. Their first meeting doesn't go very well.

[00:17:33] Alexander Silvert: The first time I met Gerard was uh basically the first time I ever meet a defendant is after the initial court date, he had been released on bond. We had a meeting, and usually what I do at the meeting is simply go over federal process with my client. I don't talk about the case itself. We talk about what the system is going to do, what's going to come up next, when, what court hearings we have, what he can expect from me. But he was very insistent throughout our initial conversation that he was innocent, uh and that he had been framed for robbing the mailbox, and he basically, throughout my conversation, made it very difficult for me to get through my, what I would normally do. I have a lot of clients who initially claim that they have no idea what, why they've been arrested or what they've been charged for, and of course, later on that turns out to be completely false. Um, a lot of, you know, clients don't trust a federal public defender. Many of them don't even believe we're lawyers and have law degrees, and certainly, if we were any good, we'd be in private practice. So there's a level of distrust when a person gets just simply appointed a lawyer they didn't choose, and they've never met before. So when he kept insisting that he was innocent, and he was being frame, I took that with a grain of salt, of salt at first because I've heard that many times before.

[00:18:58] Bob: Silvert has been a public defender for about 30 years at this point, and he's seen all kinds of cases and heard all kinds of excuses. He pretty quickly suggests that Gerard plead guilty, but Gerard won't hear any of it. And there is something strange about the case.

[00:19:14] Alexander Silvert: You know, we normally have much more serious cases. We do mostly crystal methamphetamine cases, large multi-Ponzi schemes, frauds, bank robberies, armed robberies, so this kind of low-level case seemed out of place in the work that we do. The only thing I knew about it at first was that the mailbox belonged to the Honolulu Police Department Chief of Police and his wife who is a high-ranking prosecutor in the state, and so that intrigued me.

[00:19:48] Bob: It doesn't take long before the case grows to become a lot more interesting. It is a mailbox theft case, but this is no ordinary mailbox. This is a $380 mailbox, and that price, that value put on the mailbox, that turns out to be essential to the entire case.

[00:20:08] Alexander Silvert: This was a mailbox that was purchased, and it was a high end mailbox. It had a pedestal that was very sturdy and strong. Attached to the pedestal is this cast iron or aluminum mailbox that sits on top. You have to purchase these things, these are not, you don't go to your normal hardware store and buy this. And what had happened was, there was a videotape from surveillance cameras at the Chief's house of the theft, and essentially what you see is around 11:30 at night on June 21st, 2013, a car, a white looking car drive up, a man come out, walk up to the mailbox, shake it a few times, and lift the mailbox itself off of the pedestal, walk it to his car, put it in his car, and drive away. So what is remaining is the pedestal. So as part of the 9-1-1 report, they had taken the photograph of the pedestal itself, and according to Katherine Kealoha, and according to the HPD reports including an independent appraisal by an HPD officer, it was said to have been a Gaines mailbox valued at $380. What we did was just do, do our due diligence, we didn't expect anything to come of this, we sent a copy of the photograph to the Gaines Manufacturing Company just for them to confirm that this was indeed their pedestal, which we expected them to do. Instead, the response we got almost immediately was, it was not their pedestal, it didn't belong to their company, and more importantly, they knew which company it did belong to, which was a whole 'nother company called the Solar Group Mailbox Company. We then sent that photograph to the Solar Group Company, and asked them, is this your pedestal, and they confirmed it was. Every pedestal is unique, it only matches a particular mailbox, so in that first moment we realized that the Kealohas and HPD were lying about the make and model and value of the mailbox.

[00:22:20] Bob: Why would the police and the Kealohas lie about something like the price of a mailbox? And what other secrets of the city of Honolulu might be hiding inside that mailbox?

[00:22:31] Alexander Silvert: I mean who lies about the make and model of a mailbox in a petty case like this? There has to be something really serious going on if you, but not only did Katherine Kealoha lie about, but HPD did an independent appraisal and they lied about it. So you have a HPD detective who's going along with the lie. Um, and it was easy for us to determine the make and model of the mailbox, not only from having talked to the companies, but we went to Google Maps, and we just downloaded the image of what, what was the mailbox that was sit--, sitting in front of the Kealoha residence, uh from Google Maps, and you could tell which mailbox it was, and then we got family photographs to confirm it. So it was very easy for us to confirm that they were lying about the make and model of the mailbox which seemed to have gotten past the Honolulu Police detective who did the appraisal. So, that set us off that okay, maybe Gerard is telling us the truth, maybe there's something going on here.

[00:23:31] Bob: Other evidence doesn't line up either. That surveillance video, it just doesn't look like Gerard in the images.

[00:23:38] Alexander Silvert: When we finally got a copy of it, and we looked at it, while it kind of looked like Gerard, it really didn't. It looked like a younger, more spry individual who dressed like Gerard, but it didn't look like Gerard. So when I showed that video to anyone who would come into my office, I just kept showing the video saying, what do you think, what do you think? Everybody agreed that was not him. So you know, if you have a video and it clearly shows you stealing something, I mean that's pretty much the end of the case. We now had a video that we could show did not clearly show it was Gerard. So between that and what we now knew was the false claims about the mailbox, we knew that we really had a case here.

[00:24:24] Bob: When Silvert goes to Gerard with his team of investigators and tells him about their mailbox research, and that he's caught HPD in a lie, and that he's ready to fight with Gerard in court, well, that's music to Gerard's ears. But why a $380 mailbox? What was the point of that charade? Silvert has a theory.

[00:24:46] Alexander Silvert: Under Hawaii State Law, a theft of property of a value of more than $300 is a felony offense. That's a very serious offense. It carries significant jail possibilities, as well as other implications in terms of how a felony conviction can be used in other proceedings. The fact that they lied about it is when we discovered that it was not a Gaines mailbox, but it was a Solar Group mailbox, that value of that mailbox was $180, meaning it was a misdemeanor, which is a lot less serious, you normally don't go to jail for a misdemeanor, it doesn't carry the ramifications that a felony conviction does. So by having lied about the make and model and value of the mailbox, they were making this case under state law a felony offense.

[00:25:34] Bob: That $380 mailbox is really about a $500,000 reverse mortgage, and the lawsuit Florence Puana had filed.

[00:25:43] Alexander Silvert: So, the whole case in the civil case had to do with credibility; was Gerard and his mother telling the truth or was Katherine telling the truth. There are circumstances where you can use a felony conviction at a civil trial to impeach, to destroy the credibility of a witness because they're a felon. You can't do that with a misdemeanor. So what really was going on here was an attempt to have him arrested, have him incarcerated, and have him convicted of a felony so they could use that to destroy his credibility in the upcoming civil trial.

[00:26:20] Bob: But theories are fine. They still have to prove it in court. Mailbox appraisals that disagree might be intriguing, and grainy surveillance video might be inconclusive, but what will a jury think? Gerard is going up against Honolulu's most powerful copule, and in theory, they should be the two most law-abiding people in the city. Does Gerard even stand a chance?


[00:26:46] Bob: When the trial begins with journalists like Lynn Kawano, a little frustrated to be sitting in the courtroom covering a mailbox theft, Silvert lays out much more than an allegation about falsified appraisals. Remember that angry letter that Katherine Kealoha wrote to Gerard and his mom after they accused her of trickery with that reverse mortgage? Well, the jury hears about that right away.

[00:27:11] Alexander Silvert: Of course, the way the trials works is you do opening statements, and we had developed quite a list of falsified documents, outright omitted evidence, um, we had a whole litany of evidence that we were going to present, of course, in an opening statement you don't want to say too much, but one of the things that we had uncovered was a letter that was written by Florence Puana to Katherine Kealoha and then Katherine Kealoha responded. And the response by Katherine Kealoha was one of the most outrageous letters I've ever seen a lawyer write. It was about 7 pages long, words were consistently bolded, there were capitalized words, and by the end of the letter, which and no lawyer who in their right mind should have penned, she says, "I will seek the highest form of retribution for all of you who lie against me," and essentially, "You will rue the day." So that was our theme of our opening statement, and the theme of the case was that we had Katherine's own words to prove her intent.

[00:28:21] Bob: The first witness is a detective who essentially confirms that the Honolulu Police had withheld additional surveillance video that's on a hard drive from before the theft that might have shown someone else had altered the scene beforehand. And there is something else.

[00:28:37] Alexander Silvert: This officer claimed that he had gone to the Kealoha residence at 8:59 in the morning of June 22nd, the day after the mailbox was taken, and retrieved the hard drive as evidence. The problem with that was that Katherine Kealoha didn't call 9-1-1, and the beat officers didn't come to the Kealoha residence until 1:30 that afternoon. So how was it possible that Officer Silva had gone to the residence to retrieve evidence when the crime hadn't even been reported?

[00:29:10] Bob: Second witness, Chief Kealoha. He's asked a question about Gerard Puana's appearance in the video. His answer shocks the courtroom and leads immediately to chaos.

[00:29:20] Alexander Silvert: In responding to that question, rather than just describing his physical details as the question called for, Chief Louie Kealoha stopped mid-answer and said, "He looked just like he did in his arrest photo when he was arrested for breaking into a house." That kind of answer where you bring in any prior conviction or prior bad act to answer a question is improper in federal court under the law unless you've given prior notice and we've litigated whether it's proper or not, none of that had been done. This answer was out of the blue and was completely improper and the Chief of Police, who prided himself on his education and his PhD in Criminal Law and he trains officers on how to testify, had to have known that was an improper answer. And as a result of that answer, I slam my hand on the table and ask for a mistrial.

[00:30:23] Bob: The sound echoes and wakes up the sleepy courtroom.

[00:30:26] Lynn Kawano: Alexander Silvert, he'll tell you, he raised his hands, and he slammed one of them down on the table, and I, I was as startled as he was.

[00:30:37] Bob: During a break, the judge quickly grants a mistrial, which could have been even more frustrating to reporters like Lynn Kawano who now seemed to have wasted their day. But she did get to talk with Gerard Puana, however, and she leaves that day with the feeling that this case is far, far from over.

[00:30:56] Lynn Kawano: It wasn't long after that, maybe a day after that Ali Silvert said I think he did it on purpose, and I think the reason he did it on purpose was because of the evidence I have against him in defense of my client. And at that point, I was all ears. I had been floored by what I saw in court. Um, it just didn't seem right. It didn't seem like it was an accident.

[00:31:19] Bob: For Gerard and for Silvert, the mistrial is a bit of a gamble. It's really just a pause. The pressure was off for now, but the prosecution still has the right to retry the case, and in a retrial with a new jury, the mistrial might even help the prosecution.

[00:31:37] Alexander Silvert: Absolutely, it could have been very bad news. We had disclosed at that point a lot of our exhibits that we were going to use which the government would have time to examine. I had made an opening statement, so they knew what I was, where I was going, so this would have given them the opportunity to really examine what we had and what we were doing.

[00:31:58] Bob: The mistrial does give Puana and Silvert time to come up with a new strategy, however, and Silvert decides to take the risk of a career, to turn the trial on its head, to tell prosecutors they have the wrong man, that the real criminal is the Chief of Police and his prosecutor wife.

[00:32:17] Alexander Silvert: We decided, given that we had exposed our hand to some degree, whether it was time to go to the prosecutor and say, let us show us what we have. Again, as I said, normally we don't do that, we don't, we aren't required to do that, but given the status of the case where I even felt that the prosecutor in this case was stunned by what happened and felt in his gut, he had to have felt in his gut that something was wrong just based upon what Louie Kealoha had done in trial, and so that gave us the impetus to say, oh, okay, let's take the risk, let's take the chance, let's meet with the government and show all our cards...

[00:32:57] Bob: But will prosecutors side with the broke, alleged mailbox thief and his 90-something mother against the Chief of Police, and one of the most important prosecutors in town, and the Honolulu Police Department? Really, the whole law enforcement system in Hawaii's capital city? Well that's next week on The Perfect Scam.


[00:33:23] Bob: If you have been targeted by a scam or fraud, you are not alone. Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360. Their trained fraud specialists can provide you with free support and guidance on what to do next. Our email address at The Perfect Scam is:, and we want to hear from you. If you've been the victim of a scam or you know someone who has, and you'd like us to tell their story, write to us or just send us some feedback. That address again is: Thank you to our team of scambusters; Associate Producer, Annalea Embree; Researcher, Sarah Binney; Executive Producer, Julie Getz; and our Audio Engineer and Sound Designer, Julio Gonzalez. Be sure to find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. For AARP's The Perfect Scam, I'm Bob Sullivan.



Katherine and Louis Kealoha report that their mailbox has been stolen, a strange occurrence in the upscale Honolulu neighborhood of Kahala. Even stranger is that Katherine claims that her uncle Gerard Puana is the mailbox thief, an accusation he vehemently denies. When the case goes to court, though, the Kealohas’ secrets are exposed, revealing a terrible case of family financial fraud

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Have you seen this scam?

  • Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360 or report it with the AARP Scam Tracking Map.  
  • Get Watchdog Alerts for tips on avoiding such scams.