State Attorney General Petitions for Immediate Suspension of City Prosecutor

Feb 12, 2019

State Attorney General Clare Connors speaks to reporters on a petition calling for the immediate suspension of City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro.
Credit Casey Harlow

Hawaii's attorney general is asking the state's highest court to immediately suspend Honolulu's top prosecutor because he is the target of a federal investigation.

A petition filed to the Hawaii Supreme Court by Attorney General Clare Connors said today Keith Kaneshiro's refusal to take leave during the investigation has subjected every case handled by his office to potential ethical and legal challenges.

A spokesman for the prosecutor's office says Kaneshiro is reviewing the petition.

A former deputy prosecutor who worked under Kaneshiro, Katherine Kealoha, is scheduled to go to trial next month on allegations that she and her husband, former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha, framed an uncle for stealing their home mailbox.

Several current and former police officers are co-defendants.

A separate federal indictment unsealed Tuesday accuses Katherine Kealoha and her physician brother, Dr. Rudolph Puana, of dealing opioids. Attorneys for the siblings didn't immediately return messages.

The federal grand jury indictment unsealed today also alleges Katherine Kealoha steered law enforcement away from scrutinizing her brother after police told her that he was buying cocaine. Puana is an anesthesiologist.

The indictment charges the siblings and unnamed co-conspirators with distributing oxycodone, fentanyl and Xanax.

It says Puana advised one co-conspirator to use proceeds from the sale of illegal prescription pain medication to buy cocaine for the two of them.

Kealoha and her husband are scheduled to go to trial in March on the unrelated charges.

HPR's Casey Harlow contributed audio to this report.