State briefs for February 13

Katherine Kealoha, brother hit with drug charges

HONOLULU — A federal grand jury indictment unsealed Tuesday accuses a former Honolulu city prosecutor of dealing opioids with her physician brother and using her position to cover up their crimes.

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Katherine Kealoha, the wife of now-retired Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha, steered law enforcement away from investigating her brother, Dr. Rudolph Puana, after police told her that he was buying cocaine, according to the indictment.

The siblings and unnamed co-conspirators were charged with distributing oxycodone, fentanyl and Xanax.

Puana was arrested amid a growing federal corruption investigation that resulted in indictments against the Kealohas and current and former officers.

The latest indictment said Puana, an anesthesiologist and pain doctor, advised one co-conspirator to use proceeds from the sale of illegal prescription pain medication to buy cocaine for the two of them. They would also “sell and barter” medication in exchange for cocaine, the indictment said.

When a police officer notified Kealoha that her brother and a co-conspirator were buying and using cocaine, she “arranged to have herself assigned as the prosecutor” of the investigation, the indictment said.

That allowed her to “steer law enforcement scrutiny away from her brother’s felonious conduct in that drug conspiracy,” the indictment said.

She then gave favorable plea deals to others involved “to reduce the likelihood they would reveal that her brother had distributed controlled substances,” the document states

Puana is scheduled to appear in court today.

World’s oldest known wild bird hatches chick

HONOLULU — The oldest known wild bird in the world has become a mother — again — at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, according to U.S. wildlife officials.

The Laysan albatross named Wisdom hatched a chick earlier this month at the remote atoll.

Wisdom is at least 68 years old and has raised at least 31 chicks, said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials. Wisdom was first banded as an adult in 1956.

Wisdom and her mate, Akeakamai, have returned to the atoll to lay and hatch eggs since 2006. Laysan albatrosses mate for life and lay one egg per year.

Midway Atoll is home to about 3 million seabirds, including about 1 million albatrosses.

They return to the places of their birth to nest and raise their young, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Shopping mall adopts Hawaiian language name

HONOLULU — Buildings at a shopping mall on Oahu were renamed in the Hawaiian language amid a growing trend of Hawaii businesses adopting Hawaiian names.

The Pearlridge Shopping Center adopted the name Wai Makai for its complex formerly known as Downtown after more than 20 years in operation.

The company worked with landowner Kamehameha Schools, community leaders and Native Hawaiian consulting firm DTL before deciding on a name, said Diana Su-Niimi, the mall’s marketing director.

Other businesses incorporated Hawaiian into their operations in recent years, such as the Bank of Hawaii, which offers Hawaiian as a language option on its ATMs.

Haleakala gets share of ‘extreme winter conditions’

HALEAKALA NATIONAL PARK — There’s snow on the highest peak of Maui.

But visitors have to enjoy it from below.

The summit area of Haleakala National Park was closed Tuesday because of “extreme winter conditions.”

Park officials said snow, ice, fallen trees and rocks were making the area dangerous.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Tom Birchard said there still was a hint of snow Tuesday, and more is expected tonight into Thursday.

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There’s a winter storm watch for Haleakala and Big Island summits.

Snowfall lower down at a Maui park caused a traffic jam during the weekend from people wanting to see the unusual Hawaii weather.

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