‘Got ur back’: Prosecutors say Kealoha’s private texts showcase alleged misconduct

Former deputy city Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha walks into the federal courthouse with her...
Former deputy city Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha walks into the federal courthouse with her husband, Louis, Honolulu's former police chief. (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Published: Feb. 14, 2019 at 11:47 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The newest indictment against former deputy city Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, in which her physician brother is also charged, lists four co-conspirators who are not charged with crimes.

But their alleged involvement in the scheme offers insight into the federal investigation.

Co-conspirator number 1 in the indictment, for example, is author Chris Mckinney. He grew up with the siblings and allegedly sold some of the prescription drugs that Kealoha’s brother, Dr. Rudy Puana, is accused of providing.

Co-conspirators numbers 2 and 3 are a married couple from the Big Island who prosecutors say sometimes sold the drugs to pay for personal expenses.

And sources say that co-conspirator number 4 is Tiffany Masunaga, an alleged drug dealer.

She’s also friends with Puana, Kealoha and Mckinney, and plays prominently in the latest allegations against the former deputy city prosecutors.

Masunanga was arrested in August 2015, and police accused her of having opioid pills, cocaine and more than 100 patches of fentanyl.

Federal investigators say the fentanyl traced back to the Puana’s Drug Enforcement Administration number, which is aimed at tracing prescription opioids back to doctors.

According to the court documents, Kealoha assigned herself to prosecute Masunaga — despite their friendship.

Seized text messages while Kealoha was in charge of the case show, prosecutors allege, that the deputy prosecutor intentionally sought to get Masunaga a “favorable” deal so police didn’t trace the drugs back to her brother.

“You are such a good person, now we need to vindicate you on many levels, while we have them be accountable!!!” Kealoha said in one of the text messages to Masunaga.

Another said: “Just remember that I always got ur back, I love you and will protect you always!!!”

And when Masunaga agreed to the deal, she texted Kealoha this message: “Go TEAM!”

Kealoha responded: “GO TEAM!!! Can’t wait for this s**t to be over.”

Prosecutors say those text messages demonstrate that Kealoha, who faces public corruption and financial fraud charges in two other indictments, was manipulating Masunaga to keep quiet about Puana’s opioid mill.

But in federal court Wednesday, Kealoha shook her head when federal prosecutors made reference to some of those allegations (as they sought tougher restrictions on her bond).

And her court-appointed lawyer told the judge that the texts had no bearing on the case and shouldn’t have been made public in court filings.

Both Kealoha and Puana entered not guilty pleas Wednesday in the drug case.

Puana’s attorney, meanwhile, told reporters outside the courtroom that the doctor is “prepared to answer” the allegations against him.

Kealoha Court Filing by on Scribd

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