(AP) — Federal prosecutors are asking that no bail be set for a Hawaii pain doctor accused of dealing opioids with his sister, a key figure in a growing public corruption scandal.
Dr. Rudolph Puana and his sister, former Honolulu deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, are scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon in federal court. A 54-count indictment alleges Kealoha used her position to cover up their crimes.
Prosecutors are not asking that Kealoha be put in jail, in part because she is scheduled to appear in a federal conspiracy trial beginning March 18. However, prosecutors on Tuesday did ask the court to toughen the conditions of Kealoha’s release. The new conditions include drug testing, increased financial requirements and an updated no-contact list.
Attorneys for the siblings haven’t returned messages seeking comment. Puana used his pain clinic to distribute and dispense “immense” amounts of controlled substances including oxycodone, Xanax and fentanyl, prosecutors said. He and unnamed co-conspirators sold or bartered the prescription drugs for other drugs such as cocaine, prosecutors said.
When a police officer notified Kealoha that her brother and a co-conspirator were buying and using cocaine, she “arranged to have herself assigned as the prosecutor” of the investigation, the indictment said.Puana should be detained without bail because he’s a drug addict and “gun enthusiast,” prosecutors said in a motion. According to the document, Puana was in rehab last year. He has owned numerous firearms, including handguns and rifles, prosecutors said.
“The Red-headed Hawaiian: The inspiring story about a local boy from rural Hawaii who makes good,” is the title of Puana’s memoir he co-wrote with childhood friend and novelist Chris McKinney. The memoir describes how Puana was teased for his red hair, struggled as a student and then graduated from Creighton University School of Medicine in Nebraska, where he met his wife Lynn Puana.
The indictment also mentions several unnamed co-conspirators and an unnamed individual who appear to include Tiffany Masunaga and former Honolulu Police Officer Alan Ahn, who in 2015 were charged with a series of crimes related to possession of cocaine, marijuana and other prescription drugs, including the opioid fentanyl.
Ahn pleaded no contest to the charges in February 2017 and was sentenced to 60 days in jail three months later. Masunaga’s case, meanwhile, has stalled, with prosecutors neither dismissing the charges nor putting her on trial.
Kealoha and her husband Louis, now-retired Honolulu police chief, are scheduled for trial next month in a separate indictment accusing them of framing her uncle for stealing their home mailbox.
Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro and Honolulu Corporation Counsel Donna Leong received letters saying they’re targets in the ongoing investigation.
Civil Beat’s Stewart Yerton contributed to this report.
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