Among all of the damning evidence and testimony that brought down Louis and Katherine Kealoha was the sad and compelling videotaped deposition of Florence M. Puana, who died Thursday at the age of 100.

She was a great-great-great-grandmother with an eighth grade education from Makawao, Maui, who helped bring one of Honolulu’s most powerful and corrupt couples to justice.

“She died this morning at about 5 a.m.,” Puana’s attorney, Gerald Kurashima, said Thursday. “The family wants to preserve their privacy, but they appreciate all the support.”

Because she was 99 years old at the time, federal prosecutors wanted to videotape Puana’s testimony on April 30 so her own words about her granddaughter’s betrayal and theft could be heard aloud in the Kealohas’ trial in U.S. District Court, which ended in June with the convictions of the former Honolulu police chief and former deputy prosecutor.

The Kealohas were found guilty of scheming to frame Puana’s son, Gerard Puana, stealing the Kealohas’ mailbox and lying to investigators to cover up their actions.

They each face 20 years in prison when they’re expected to be sentenced in March.

Puana was born on Maui on Aug. 24, 1919, grew up in Makawao and never made it beyond the eighth grade at “Makawao public school,” Puana said in her deposition.

But she continued with her education on her own.

“My teacher gave me ninth grade books, and I taught myself with the help of my sisters,” Puana said.

Later, on Oahu, Puana worked at Star of the Sea Church for 32 years.

On the ninth day of the Kealohas’ federal corruption trial, jurors heard six hours’ worth of testimony from Puana via videotape. She could not always hear clearly and needed help understanding some of the questions. She also was blind in her left eye and could not see well. So attorneys offered her two different, oversize magnifying glasses to review documents they handed her.

Throughout the hours of questioning, Puana was adamant that Katherine Kea­loha had betrayed her.

“She was a loving, loving gentle person, and I trusted her,” Puana said. “She knew that I didn’t know much about legal things. … She said, ‘Grandma, don’t worry. I’m the attorney and you can trust me.’”

It turned out that Puana could not trust her granddaughter.

Florence and Gerard Puana sued Kealoha in state court in 2013 over proceeds from the reverse mortgage on the Maunalani Heights home and money her uncle said he gave to his niece for an investment group.

Federal prosecutors in the Kealohas’ criminal trial presented evidence that the defendants staged the theft of the mailbox in retaliation for the Puanas’ civil lawsuit and to discredit Gerard Puana. Katherine Kealoha also filed a petition for the appointment of a conservator, claiming that her grandmother was unable to manage her own affairs.

A state judge found Florence Puana competent to handle her own affairs, but she and son Gerard lost their lawsuit against Kea­loha. Another state judge ordered them to pay Kea­loha $658,787 in damages.

Florence Puana paid about $108,000 and appealed the awarding of certain damages and attorney fees.

At the heart of the dispute between grandmother and granddaughter was a reverse mortgage on Puana’s home on Noi Place in Maunalani Heights that Kea­loha engineered on Puana’s behalf.

Puana’s home was built by her late husband, “master plumber” John Kenalio Puana Jr., and some of his friends, Puana said.

Puana and her husband raised all of their nine children at the house and lived there so long that Puana could not recall when they first moved in.

But Puana believed Kea­loha, who told her that she could take out a reverse mortgage on the home, live there for the rest of her life, finance a condo for her son, help pay off the Kealohas’ debts and leave something for the rest of her children.

The plan meant giving Kea­loha power of attorney over Puana’s finances and having Kealoha help Puana set up a joint bank account at Bank of Hawaii. But Puana said she had no bank card, checks or even an idea how to access any of the money in the bank account.

The value of the 2009 reverse mortgage was $534,596.01.

“I did not get any money,” Puana said in her testimony.

Instead, Puana later discovered that $23,976.69 of the money went to a lavish, celebratory breakfast for then-Police Chief Louis Kea­loha at the Sheraton Waikiki.

“I knew that if I wouldn’t do something about it, that I would lose my home,” Puana said in her testimony. “Rather than losing my home, I decided to sell it.”

Eventually, Puana moved in with her daughter in Kailua.

In August, Puana celebrated her 100th birthday with about 100 family members and friends at a Mid-Pacific Country Club ballroom in Kailua.

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