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Grandma, 99, appeals order to pay granddaughter’s legal fees

HONOLULU — A 99-year-old woman is appealing an order that required her to pay her embattled former prosecutor granddaughter more than $100,000 in legal fees.

A judge ordered garnishing Florence Puana’s bank accounts to pay $108,000 after losing a civil lawsuit against former Honolulu deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha. Kealoha and her retired police chief husband have since been indicted on corruption-related charges. The allegations include defrauding Puana.

The Kealohas pleaded not guilty.

The judge’s order remained despite the growing federal investigation into the Kealohas and others. It was most of Puana’s life savings.

Puana and her son alleged in a lawsuit that Kealoha stole money from them. A jury sided with Kealoha and awarded her hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.

Puana was scheduled for a deposition Monday in the federal criminal case against the Kealohas, but it was postponed after she became ill.

Victor Bakke, a Honolulu attorney not involved with the case, said Puana’s appeal will be an uphill battle. Puana will not be allowed to introduce new evidence such as the indictment against the Kealohas, he said.

“It would be usually the case where parties have to file a new lawsuit rather than going back to fix the one that they already had,” Bakke said.

The judge should have taken news reports about the FBI investigation under consideration before garnishing Puana’s bank accounts, said Ken Lawson, who teaches at the University of Hawaii’s William S. Richardson Law School.

“Nothing that’s gone on in this case shocks me now,” Lawson said. “The way you would treat an elder. The way you would treat a grandmother like this. It’s just reprehensible.”
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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