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Judge rules no opioid epidemic talk at trial for ex-prosecutor's brother

prescription oxycodone pills opioids pain patients
Mark Lennihan/AP

HONOLULU — There will be no mention of the “opioid epidemic” at a trial against the pain physician brother of a former Hawaiʻi prosecutor imprisoned in a corruption case that also took down her former police chief husband.

Dr. Rudolph Puana is scheduled to go to trial in March for drug-dealing allegations.

According to federal prosecutors, Puana prescribed oxycodone to his friends so that they could sell the pills for cash and that some of it funded cocaine parties with the doctor. Puana's attorney has said he strongly disputes the allegations.

A U.S. judge Wednesday granted Puana’s request for no mention or evidence at trial about the “public controversy surrounding opioid use” — including references to terms such as “opioid epidemic” or “opioid crisis.”

Puana’s sister, Katherine Kealoha, pleaded guilty to using her position as a deputy prosecutor to protect him from a drug-dealing investigation. She entered the plea after a jury found her and her now-estranged husband guilty of conspiracy in a separate case alleging they plotted to frame a relative to keep him from revealing fraud that financed their lavish lifestyle.

She is serving a 13-year prison sentence and her husband Louis Kealoha is serving a seven-year sentence.

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