Ex-Prosecutor, Doctor Released as Siblings Face Opioid Case

Feb 13, 2019

Louis and Katherine Kealoha
Credit Cory Lum / Civil Beat

A Hawaii pain doctor and his former prosecutor sister were released on bond Wednesday while awaiting trial on charges they dealt opioids.

Dr. Rudolph Puana and his sister, former Honolulu deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, stood side-by-side as they pleaded not guilty to a 54-count indictment alleging she used her position to cover up their crimes. She put her arm around him and patted his back after he was brought out in a tan inmate jumpsuit to sit with her at the defense table.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Puglisi ordered Puana released on a $50,000 bond and must post $25,000 cash. Puana walked out of the courthouse without commenting.

Kealoha was released on an existing bond. She is a key figure in a growing public corruption scandal. Kealoha and her now-retired Honolulu police chief husband are scheduled for trial next month in a separate indictment accusing them of framing her uncle for stealing their home mailbox.

Louis Kealoha watched the arraignment of his sister and brother-in-law from the courtroom gallery. The couple did not comment before leaving the courthouse without commenting.

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 first wife, Lynn Puana. He was to be released to the custody of his current wife, Jennifer Puana.

Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro and Honolulu Corporation Counsel Donna Leong received letters saying they're targets in the ongoing investigation.