Katherine Kealoha, a former Honolulu deputy prosecutor and the wife of a former Honolulu police chief, dealt illegal prescription drugs obtained from her brother, a Big Island doctor, and used her position to protect him from arrest, federal prosecutors alleged in an indictment unsealed Tuesday.
These are just the latest charges against Kealoha, who was already accused of framing her uncle for stealing her mailbox and of lying on loan applications.
A federal grand jury charged Kealoha and her brother, Dr. Rudolph Puana, who is an anesthesiologist and pain doctor, of conspiring with others to distribute prescription pain medication oxycodone and fentanyl and the anti-anxiety drug alprazolam, also known as Xanax.
Kealoha and Puana, who was arrested Tuesday, are scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court today.
The indictment accuses Kealoha of covering up her brother’s involvement in the drug dealing conspiracy after a detective with the Honolulu Police Department’s Criminal Intelligence Unit discovered the crime and told Kealoha about it. The indictment said Kealoha protected Puana so he could continue prescribing and distributing drugs.
The conspiracy involved Puana distributing or writing prescriptions for the drugs, outside the scope of professional practice, for Kealoha and four co-conspirators, according to the indictment. Kealoha and three of the co-conspirators were Puana’s patients. Kealoha used the drugs for herself and distributed some to a person in New York, where her daughter is attending college, and a person in Hawaii, the indictment said. Puana is accused of directing three other patients to sell or trade the prescription drugs for cocaine to give to him.
The indictment says Puana is a cocaine addict. One charge accuses him of possessing firearms unlawfully. The indictment lists two semi-automatic handguns, a revolver, three rifles and a shotgun in his possession.
The CIU detective who tipped off Kealoha is not named in the indictment. His description, however, matches that of Daniel Sellers, who was charged with lying in the mailbox case but who pleaded guilty in a deal with the government last month to a misdemeanor charge of passing on confidential information to Kealoha. His sentencing is scheduled for April. Sellers is no longer assigned to CIU and is on leave from HPD.
The indictment says a CIU detective notified Kealoha that her brother was purchasing and using cocaine provided to him by the nonpatient co-conspirator and someone described as “Individual C.” The conspiracy Sellers discovered resulted in state drug distribution charges against former HPD officer Alan Ahn and Tiffany Masunaga.
Ahn pleaded no contest in 2017 to eight drug promotion charges and one of possessing drug paraphernalia. He was sent to jail for two months as part of a four-year probation sentence.
Masunaga was facing more serious charges than Ahn for distributing drugs close to a school or park, but pleaded no contest in 2016 to lesser charges in a deal offered to her by Kealoha, who was prosecuting the case. At the time of the deal, Masunaga and Kealoha were being represented by the same lawyer.
Masunaga has never been scheduled for sentencing. Her new lawyer had unsuccessfully moved to disqualify the Honolulu Department of Prosecuting Attorney from the case. He said in light of recent developments, he plans to renew his request.
According to the indictment, Kealoha got herself assigned to the Ahn-Masunaga case, drafted and approved an affidavit in support of a search warrant that concealed Puana’s involvement, prevented police detectives from questioning Ahn and Masunaga about the source of the drugs and concealed it from other deputy prosecutors. The indictment says Kealoha cultivated a close personal relationship with Masunaga, even communicating with her using an encrypted messaging application, in an effort to prevent Masunaga from revealing Puana’s role in the drug distribution.
Kealoha; her husband, former HPD Chief Louis Kealoha; and three other former members of HPD’s CIU are scheduled to stand trial in federal court next month in the mailbox case. The Kealohas are then scheduled to stand trial in June for bank fraud.
Katherine Kealoha’s court-appointed lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.
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