Rudy Puana is a local doctor, skilled anesthesiologist and pain manager from Kahaluu, Oahu. Chris McKinney is a local writer, author of 6 books, columnist at MidWeek, and also from Kahaluu.
Recognize those names?
Puana is on bail awaiting an August trial on multiple counts of drug selling and has told the FBI he was selling guns while he was drug addicted.
McKinney is named by the U.S. Attorney’s office as conspirator #1 of 4 in the feds’ pending drug case against Puana and his sister, former City deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha. McKinney has admitted buying drugs from Puana. That he’s not charged, merely named, usually means he’s agreed to give evidence against others.
It’s a great Hawaii story because McKinney is the ghost writer of a Mutual Publishing book titled The Red-Headed Hawaiian. It details Puana’s rise from a not-very-academic rural kid to a leading doctor at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, physician at Hilo Hospital and the North Hawaii Community Hospital, and owner of local pain clinics.
Then, the indictment alleges, he turned to selling Oxycodone and cocaine, among other controlled drugs.
McKinney’s won literary awards and taught at both the UH Manoa campus and the Leeward college. He is alleged to have developed a buying habit and Puana was his supplier.
An FBI agent alleges in the filing that doctor Puana told investigators about his sister Katherine’s drug use, and also divulged that he had sold guns while he was addicted to drugs.
The filings stem from the third and latest indictment against Kealoha, in which she and her brother are linked to 54 counts of drug-related and other charges as part of an alleged drug distribution ring.
She and the husband she’s divorcing, former Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha, have pleaded guilty to bank fraud and other financial crimes but she’s not yet admitted to the drug offenses and supposedly shielding her brother and his drug ring from local investigations. She’s being held in the federal detention center here.
Are you following me here? It’s a very complicated story, even without including Katherine’s affair with a Hawaii Island firefighter, which led to her admittedly using public funds for inter-island air and hotel rooms for their trysts.
But it’s Puana and McKinney that peaked my interest as I read The Red-Headed Hawaiian. It’s a 2014 book, so not even a hint about illegal drug use or sales. Mainly a paean to local-boy-makes-good on a major stage. You can do it, too. It requires work and ambition.
But along the way, Puana admits to being lured into some medical work of a dubious nature for a rather unsavory rich man. Read the book and form your own judgment.
Puana made a lot of money and acquired a lot of property in Hawaii. Much more than you’d ever want if you considered yourself just one of the local people — which he did.
He built two houses on an 11-acre site, one with a movie theater and underground wine cellar; a house in Waimea; private school for their kids.
McKinney got the Elliot Cades Award for Literature from the Hawaii Literary Arts Council.
They had escaped what the latter called “welfare, workman’s comp and twenty-cent bags before ever discovering that graduate school exists.”
Then came Mr. Law.
They hadn’t escaped at all.