Katherine Kealoha’s brother pleads guilty to firearms charge, drug trial continues


The brother of disgraced former Honolulu prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, Rudolph Puana, who is accused of running an illicit prescription drug ring, pleaded guilty to a single firearms charge on Monday, a day before the start of his criminal trial.

Puana, a Big Island anesthesiologist still facing more than 50 counts related to health care fraud and the prescription of thousands of opioid pills for improper purposes, admitted in district court American from Hawaii that he possessed a firearm while addicted to drugs, a federal felony.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Rudoph Puana, accused of running a prescription drug ring, pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm on Monday. Hawaii News Now

Federal prosecutors say Puana wrote unnecessary opioid prescriptions for several close friends, who would sell the drugs or use them to trade cocaine, to which Puana admitted he was addicted while possessing a collection of drugs. ‘fire arms.

Puana first obtained the cocaine through a former employee of his pain management clinic who placed bags of drugs in a drawer in the facility’s operating room, where Puana also kept a Glock semi-automatic pistol, according to court documents.

In 2018, the Puana office manager began buying cocaine, which cost $100 per bag, prosecutors said. Over a six-month period, the Puana office manager, who is not named in the court documents, bought cocaine from Puana one to three times a month.

In August 2018, Puana admitted his addiction to his ex-wife and business partner, Lynn Welch, who arranged for him to go to the Betty Ford Clinic in Minnesota for inpatient treatment for drug addiction.

While in rehab, Puana called Welch and asked him to go to a drawer in a pain clinic treatment room to retrieve his gun, along with other personal items, which he wanted ‘She delivers to his current wife’s address in Waimea, prosecutors said.

Puana, who knew he was under investigation when he returned from rehab, took his cache of weapons – nine in all – to a Waimea hunting store to ‘sell in a hurry’ , according to court documents.

He successfully sold most weapons, including handguns, rifles, and a shotgun. Federal investigators have since seized the weapons as evidence in the case against Puana.

Sentencing on the firearm charge will come after the jury returns a verdict on the other counts in Puana’s criminal trial, which is expected to last up to two weeks.

Jurors are expected to hear from Puana’s sister, former Honolulu deputy district attorney Katherine Kealoha, who is currently serving a 13-year sentence in federal prison in California on corruption charges involving Puana and the ex-chief husband. Kealoha Police, Louis Kealoha.

The jury is also expected to hear from Puana’s close friends – Christopher McKinney, Josh DeRego and Elena Rodriguez – who prosecutors say received unnecessary prescriptions from Puana for thousands of oxycodone pills.

Puana’s defense team plans to argue that the prescriptions were for legitimate medical purposes, according to a trial brief that Puana’s attorney, Clinton Broden, submitted earlier this month.

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