The kealohas, cocaine parties and oxycodondon
Katherine Kealoha once posed for a picture with a bunch of cocaine on her husband’s desk when he was the Honolulu Police Chief to win a bet, according to newly filed court records.
The reveal is part of an ongoing criminal case involving Kealoha’s brother Rudolph Puana, a pain doctor on the Big Island, who was accused by the US Department of Justice of running an illegal prescription drug ring in which he and his friends use opioids for cocaine and exchanged cash.
Kealoha, a former city attorney, has previously pleaded guilty to her involvement in the conspiracy, which included attempting to hide her brother’s suspected criminal activities from law enforcement by manipulating an accused drug dealer to determine her origin of the prescription drugs found in her home to be silent during a police raid.
Puana is due to be tried on Sept. 14 against dozens of charges of distribution of controlled substances, including oxycodone and fentanyl, as well as additional charges of health fraud and addiction to the possession of firearms.
In court records, federal attorneys led by San Diego Assistant Attorney General Michael Wheat detailed some of the evidence they hope to produce during Puana’s upcoming criminal trial.
They said that Puana, a two-time certified anesthetist, owned a pain clinic on the Big Island from 2012 to 2017 and that he gave nearly 25% of all his oxycodone prescriptions – about 7,000 pills total – to his close friend Christopher. distributed McKinney and Joshua DeRego, who then sold the pills or exchanged for cocaine.
“The staggering number of pills flowing from Puana to these individuals shows that these prescriptions were beyond normal professional practice and were not intended for legitimate medical purposes,” US Attorney General Colin McDonald wrote in the government’s statement.
“In fact, as these friends affirmed in affidavits, Puana’s prescriptions had absolutely nothing to do with the practice of medicine. Rather, Puana prescribed the monthly supply of pills so his friends could resell them on the black market to make some money (some of which were then used to fund cocaine parties with Puana).
McKinney and DeRego were named in court documents but were not charged.
McKinney, a well-known writer in Hawaii, was Puana’s childhood friend from Oahu. Together they wrote a book about Puana’s upbringing entitled “The Red-Headed Hawaiian: The Inspiring Story about a Local Boy from Rural Hawaii Who Makes Good”.
Prosecutors said McKinney told them that they used “large amounts of cocaine” while working on the book. According to investigators, Puana eventually wrote out a prescription for oxycodone for McKinney and told him he could sell the pills for $ 15 apiece.
DeRego and Puana were similarly close, “almost fraternal,” said prosecutors. DeRego and Puana would play golf, drink, and use cocaine together. Their children also attended the same private school.
According to court records, Puana and his then-wife funded a scholarship for DeRego’s children to attend school because he was struggling to pay tuition himself. Puana then allegedly offered DeRego and his wife Elena Rodriquez oxycodone that they could sell to pay for their children’s schooling.
He also put them in touch with a Big Island drug dealer who was identified only as “the Hawaiian” by prosecutors, and told them they could sell the prescription pills for $ 20 each. Between 2013 and 2015, prosecutors said that Puana Rodriquez had prescribed more than 4,000 tablets of oxycodone and that the pills would be taken over by Medicaid.
According to the Justice Department, Kealoha was an important part of the drug distribution system and admitted this in a settlement agreement in October 2019.
The former assistant prosecutor said her brother would write “medically unnecessary” prescriptions for her and others so that they could turn around and sell the drugs on the street or trade them for cocaine, which they could then use on themselves.
Kealoha used her position as a prosecutor to mislead law enforcement agencies after HPD raided the home of a suspected drug dealer in 2015 and confiscated drugs from her brother. She also cultivated an inappropriate relationship with the accused dealer Tiffany Masunaga to keep her calm and protect Puana.
When McKinney was summoned to a federal grand jury in 2018 to testify about his relationship with Masunaga, he called Puana, who allegedly told him, “Remember, it’s our word against yours.”
All along, McDonald wrote that Puana was addicted to cocaine, pain relievers, and alcohol.
“Puana’s use of controlled substances has advanced to the point where it challenges fellow users to snap a picture of themselves using cocaine in an outrageous place,” wrote McDonald. “Puana’s sister Katherine Kealoha ‘won’ over by posting a photo with a line of cocaine on the desk
Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha.
The Kealohas are currently serving federal prisons for their role in a number of crimes that were exposed after they were caught trying to hang a family member for stealing their mailbox.
The prosecution’s new filing relates to evidence the Justice Department plans to use to prove its case against Puana. Prosecutors say they want the opportunity to take advantage of statements Puana made at two meetings with them in October 2018 where they offered him the chance to work together.
In those meetings, held shortly after Puana’s return from a Betty Ford rehabilitation clinic in Minnesota, Puana admitted that he was a “heavy cocaine user” and that he had “taken advantage of his position” as a doctor. He also told prosecutors that he was treating some of his patients “out of the books” and that he was keeping track of these transactions in a notebook he kept hidden in a locked cabinet at his pain clinic.
Prosecutors also seek permission from a judge to use the notebook as evidence, calling it a “secret book” tracking its illegal activities. The Justice Department also wants to rely on the use of experts, including doctors, to act as medical providers to discuss Puana’s addiction and abdication.
According to the documents, Puana’s ex-wife and business partner Lynn Welch will also be summoned as a witness during the trial.
Read the current court files here: