Man the Kealohas say stole their mailbox takes the stand in Hawaii's biggest corruption case
Gerard Puana filed a civil lawsuit against his niece Katherine over a financial dispute
HONOLULU - Gerard Puana was accused of stealing Louis and Katherine Kealoha's mailbox. Wednesday, he took the witness stand.
When asked by attorneys if he took the mailbox, he said, "Absolutely not."
Puana not only talked about the days leading up to and after the alleged mailbox theft, but a large chunk of today's testimony was on his finances.
U.S. Attorneys asked Puana about an investment hui he took part in, organized by his niece, Katherine Kealoha.
He said, "Shew as the one I trusted the most... she was my niece. She and I were very close at the time. "
He went on to testify about his conversation with Katherine about a condo he said he had sentimental feelings for, and he said Katherine talked him and his mother, Florence Puana, into agreeing to a reverse mortgage to help him purchase that condo.
Puana testified that in a meeting between him, Florence and Katherine, Florence Puana shared her concern about a reverse mortgage because she wanted to be fair to her other children.
According to Gerard, Katherine then said: "We don't have to tell anybody. We'll keep it a secret. It'll just be between the three of us. It'll be paid off before anyone would know."
Tuesday, the jury heard 99-year-old Florence testify that her granddaughter got her to sign a reverse mortgage and didn't fulfill her promise to pay it off.
U.S. Attorney Colin McDonald asked, "did you believe her?"
"Well, I believed her but I didn't have any proof," Florence said.
On cross examination, Katherine Kealoha's attorney tried to show the jury Gerard Puana was someone who might take advantage of his mother. The attorney brought up checks that Florence signed for Gerard for various things like his other mortgage, shared utilities, and a birthday present.
Gerard Puana also talked about the events of 2011: when he was incarcerated for 71 days for unauthorized entry onto a neighbor's property, the meetings he had with Katherine during his time behind bars, and how she convinced him to go to the Sand Island Treatment Center for drug habits.
He also talked about the days following June 21st -- the alleged mailbox theft.
Puana said he noticed he was being followed by unmarked cars, but when he called 911 about his concerns, he said he was told by a police officer: "unless they came out of the vehicles and harassed you, its a public road so they had every right."
Cross examination of Gerard Puana is not over. He'll be back on the witness stand Thursday morning.