Special Report

The Worst Corruption Scandal in Each State

Source: Jaymast / iStock / Getty Images Plus

11. Hawaii
> Scandal: Law enforcement couple frames own family
> Year: 2013

A Honolulu power couple are both heading to prison for a wide-ranging corruption scheme. Katherine Kealoha was a high-ranking prosecutor in the area, married to Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha. The saga began when Katherine duped her grandmother into getting a reverse mortgage, netting her around $150,000 to spend on cars, gifts, and other luxury items. She also apparently had plans to defraud banks and drain trusts of children in the family. When her uncle Gerard Puana tried to sue Kealoha, she used her husband’s law enforcement status to try to frame Puana for theft to ruin his credibility.

The couple was indicted in 2017 and eventually pleaded guilty. Katherine blamed much of her impaired judgment on a prescription drug addiction. In late 2020, she was sentenced to 13 years in prison, while her now-estranged husband Louis was sentenced to seven years. Two other police officers were also convicted.

Source: Courtesy of Phil Hart for Idaho via Facebook

12. Idaho
> Scandal: State Rep. Hart ducks tax payment
> Year: 2013

Like a lot of people, Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart didn’t like to pay taxes. He challenged the constitutionality of federal taxes by refusing to pay them, beginning in 1996. Eventually, he owed more than $500,000 in state and federal taxes.

The Republican legislator’s defiance didn’t stop there. Hart also took timber from land owned by the state to build a home because he believed he was entitled to it as a citizen. After losing his challenge on the constitutionality of federal taxation, the feds eventually sold the property to pay for taxes he owed the government. Hart was thwarted in his bid for a fifth term when he lost a primary in 2012.

Source: Joshua Lott / Getty Images News via Getty Images

13. Illinois
> Scandal: Ex-Gov. Blagojevich guilty of misusing powers
> Year: 2008

Rod Blagojevich in 2011 was found guilty of misusing his powers as governor of Illinois, most famously for trying to sell the Senate seat left vacant when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. Blagojevich was convicted on 17 corruption-related charges and removed from office in 2009. He received a 14-year prison sentence in 2011 but was released from prison early.

President Donald Trump — who had Blagojevich on his “Celebrity Apprentice” TV show before he was imprisoned — commuted Blagojevich’s sentence in 2020.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

14. Indiana
> Scandal: Indiana politician rаpe/murder scandal
> Year: 1925

Indiana powerbroker and Ku Klux Klan leader D.C. Stephenson was charged with rаpe and murder in a sensational case in 1925. Stephenson was hoping Gov. Ed Jackson, whom he had helped elect, would grant him a pardon after he was convicted of second-degree murder of a woman who worked for the governor. When Stephenson didn’t get the pardon, he went public with his relationships with Jackson and other politicians. This led to the downfall of Jackson as well as Indianapolis Mayor John Duvall.

Source: Courtesy of Russell Wasendorf Sr via Facebook

15. Iowa
> Scandal: Embezzlement scandal
> Year: 2013

Russell Wasendorf, the former chief executive of Peregrine Financial Group in Cedar Falls, received a 50-year jail term for embezzling $215 million from 13,000 clients. The 50-year term was the maximum allowed under the law. Wasendorf confessed to using client funds to keep his firm solvent, and he also blamed regulators for causing his business to fail.

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