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Ex-inmate, attorney dreaded holidays in federal prison

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Kenneth Lawson has some idea what Katherine Kealoha is going through

HONOLULU (AP) — A former prosecutor is now inmate No. 06014-122 at a federal detention center after a jury convicted her of conspiracy in what’s been described as Hawaii’s biggest corruption case.

Katherine Kealoha was once a Maserati-driving, high-ranking deputy Honolulu prosecutor who lived in swanky Kahala with her police chief husband.

It has been about a week since a jury found her and her now-retired husband, Louis Kealoha, guilty in a plot to frame her uncle to keep him from revealing fraud that paid for the couple’s lavish lifestyle.

University of Hawaii law school instructor Kenneth Lawson told Hawaii News Now about what her life must be like behind bars. He was an attorney whose drug addiction landed him in federal prison for two years.

Weekends and holidays were the worst, he said.

“When there’s nothing to do, there’s no programs, those are the days when time is moving so slow,” he said. “It’s horrible.”

Lawson still has items from his incarceration, including a prison ID, a pair of basketball shorts and a laundry bag.

“They’ll give you a toothbrush, a little prison-issue brush, a comb and some nasty toothpaste,” he said. Other items, like the shorts, had to be purchased at the commissary.

He remembers buying salmon that came in plastic. Cans weren’t available because of the sharp edges. He was allowed to microwave his salmon and when he had extra money he would buy crackers to crumble into the salmon.

Loved ones can add money to prison commissary accounts, but inmates are required to have jobs that earn them just cents per hour, he said.

Lawson’s job initially was picking up trash in the yard. But he was later able to get a job working in the prison library.

After the Kealohas were convicted, a U.S. prosecutor asked for Katherine Kealoha to be detained but didn’t object to her husband remaining free on bond. A judge then ordered her sent to the Honolulu Federal Detention Center because of concerns she would try to obstruct justice.

Unless exceptions are made, Louis Kealoha won’t be allowed to visit his wife because they’re co-defendants.

The Kealohas are scheduled to be sentenced in October.