Maui Physician Charged with Alleged Unlawful Distribution of Hydrocodone

October 9, 2020, 2:50 PM HST · Updated October 9, 2:50 PM
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A medical doctor and resident of Wailuku, Maui was charged by a criminal complaint unsealed on Thursday, with the alleged unlawful distribution of the controlled substance hydrocodone.

The US Department of Justice says Paul A. Kaiwi, Jr., 51, is accused of six counts of unlawful distribution of a schedule II controlled substance, for which each count carries a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years and a fine of not more than $1,000,000.

According to the DOJ, an undercover agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration posed as a new patient seeking prescriptions for opioid medications.  Over the course of six months, starting in December of 2018, the agent visited Kaiwi’s practice, Progressive Medical, in Kahului six times.

Kaiwi also operates a medical office in Hilo on Hawaiʻi Island.

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The documents allege the agent was prescribed between 84 and 90 pills of hydrocodone, sometimes within minutes of entering the exam room.

Hydrocodone is an orally available opioid that, in combination with acetaminophen, is widely used for treatment of acute or chronic pain.  The medication is among a list of controlled substances often sought by illicit drug users.

The DOJ reports that law enforcement analysis of Kaiwi’s prescription data from approximately 2015 through 2020 revealed that 88% of his patients who received prescriptions for controlled substances allegedly obtained an opioid prescription.

“Today’s charges reflect our ongoing commitment to hold doctors who unlawfully prescribe controlled substances accountable for their misconduct,” said US Attorney Kenji M. Price.  “As many Americans struggle to free themselves from the bondage of opioid addiction, the federal law enforcement community will do its part to hold those who unlawfully feed the addiction accountable for their criminal conduct.”

The Justice Department notes that a criminal complaint is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

The case is being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services – Office of the Inspector General.  It is being prosecuted by Assistant US Attorneys Michael F. Albanese and Mohammad Khatib.

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