comscore Grand jury indicts Hawaii island mayor Billy Kenoi | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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Grand jury indicts Hawaii island mayor Billy Kenoi

A grand jury indicted Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi today in connection with his misuse of a county-issued purchasing card.

The mayor has been indicted on two counts of second-degree theft, a Class C felony; two counts of third-degree theft, misdemeanors; three counts of tampering with a government record, misdemeanors; one count of false swearing, a petty misdemeanor.

Attorney General Doug Chin said the charges relate to alleged conduct that occurred from 2011 to 2015 while Kenoi was in office.

Kenoi made purchases of more than $129,000 on his pCard, but has since reimbursed the county at least $31,000 for personal purchases, including trips to Honolulu hostess bars.

The state Attorney General’s office has been investigating the mayor and presented its case to the grand jury. A bench warrant was issued for his arrest following today’s indictment, but the mayor will be released on his own recognizance after being booked.

“The Department of the Attorney General sought this indictment after an extensive investigation that lasted almost a year,” Chin said. “I thank the investigators and prosecutors for their efforts.”

Chin said Kenoi will likely turn himself in.

County records show that Kenoi used his pCard for lavish outings that included drinks, dinners, luxury hotels and more than $100,000 on trips to Washington, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Texas, the Philip­pines and Japan.

Kenoi also used his pCard to pay for a $1,200 surfboard, his $565 Hawaii Bar Association dues and luxury stays at the Marriott Wai­ko­loa Beach at $469 per night. He also spent $400 at the Camelot Restaurant and Lounge hostess bar and $892 at the Club Evergreen hostess bar — both in Honolulu.

Kenoi has publicly apologized and taken responsibility for his actions.

Here are the specific charges and maximum potential penalties, according to the Attorney General’s office:

>> Counts 1 & 2: Theft in the second degree, Class C felonies each punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

>> Counts 3 & 4: Theft in the third degree, misdemeanors each punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

>> Counts 5, 6 & 7: Tampering with a government record, misdemeanors each punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

>> Count 8: False Swearing, a petty misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

———

CORRECTION: Mayor Billy Kenoi charged more than $129,000 on his Hawaii County-issued purchasing card, and subsequently reimbursed the county at least $31,000 for personal charges. A previous version of this story said he made unauthorized purchases of more than $129,000 for personal purposes on the pCard.

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  • He hasn’t “taken responsibility for his actions” until he’s made full restitution of the taxpayers’ money and does a little time as an example to warn other politicians from pulling the same scam.

        • Can I ask? Is there no credit limit? My P-card has a limit. How did he do all that? Can we sue VISA and make some money for the state also?

      • Yes, excellent speaker, took care of his friends and neighbors, but if you are a little bit guilty or a lot you are still guilty. Don’t worry, he’ll not do time and if he stays out of trouble all will be forgotten.

        • Impossible to feel compassion for this man. He did not reflect Big Island values by staying at expensive hotels, flying first class, and living the good life off the back of BI taxpayers. Today he is driving himself to the police station to be fingerprinted, photographed, and booked for what he did wrong. If he wants to avoid jail, he had better show contrition and remorse. I don’t care how many parks he built, right now I think he belongs in a cell so he can think things over. Pity his wife and kids.

      • The same could be argued for Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the drug kingpin. Not that Kenoi’s crimes rise anywhere near the same level, of course. But these drug lords are known for reinvesting some of their profits into the regions where they operate, making life easier for the poor residents of their towns and villages. So you get onto a slippery slope pretty quickly with your argument.

    • Unfortunately Harry is in his 70’s and has a recent history of heart attacks. While he is highly regarded by the community, I think it’s better for him to work behind the scenes rather than take all the pressure himself.

  • This picture makes me laugh. That look of surprise that he is not entitled to all of those expenditures. I don’t want him to serve any jail time, at our expense, Id rather see him doing community service, like cleaning toilets at the park or cutting grass on the side of the highway. He can even carry a sign that says “I used to be Mayor I was somebody!”

  • “The mayor has been indicted on two counts of second-degree theft, a Class C felony; two counts of third-degree theft, misdemeanors; three counts of tampering with a government record, misdemeanors; one count of false swearing, a petty misdemeanor.”

    You’ve got to be kidding me. Second-degree theft? Misdemeanors ?

    It’s no wonder these elected officials commit these crimes. No substantial punishment to fit the crimes.

  • They should also go after the County staff that failed to report these improper spending. They need to make an example of those that did not do their job and failed to whistle blow.

  • Looks like we have guilty until proven innocent. Really? Personal attacks, condemnation of guilt, making judgements based on a photograph. This is the world/Hawaii we live in. Get used to it.

    • The case is pretty straightforward and the evidence against Kenoi is overwhelming. As a public official you CANNOT use taxpayer money to pay for surfboards, vacations and hostess bar tabs. Yes Kenoi is claiming he paid it all back but if he did so only AFTER he got caught, he would not gain much sympathy with jurors. The message is not one rush to judgement because a lot of sharp people see through his Billy’s B S but the fact is if you are an elected public official stop STEALING from taxpayers. Don’t worry, if Kenoi is lucky or has connections in State court on who assigns judges, he will get the same judge that presided over the case of the Charter school principal who stole more than Kenoi and got off only with probation and having to pay back what he stole at about $100 per month.

      • You know that Kenoi is David Ige’s buddy and the State AG isn’t going to let him go to jail; but, hopefully he will be IMPEACHED and replaced by someone who doesn’t have ties to the Hawaii Democratic Matrix. RON IBARRA are you there?

        • He should not go to jail. Waste of taxpayer money. He should be thrown out of the Democratic Party, if they have any cajones. And pay a 10K fine.

        • The state AG is a joke! Look how they protected their prosecutor/ UH development officer and now her hubby, the VCAA everyone wants out, but they won’t do anything to him despite misuse of state property and time! Prosecutor protection!

        • agree..the monopoly party will protect him as long as he does not go public with what he knows. Code of omerta (silence). It worked for Hee. Kenoi knows a lot about the reality of the dark power politics played behind closed doors out here. His fake pidgin speeches and his contempt for the voter and tax payer, were so obvious to me, a North Dakota Mandan outsider. Hard to understand why so many in Hilo were fooled by him.

      • Good points, inverse. Based on previous cases, I too, don’t believe he’ll get more than a slap on the wrist. Would hope at least that he get disbarred for 5 years. Like you said, if he didn’t get caught he’d still be using taxpayer money. I wonder who’ll be presiding over his case.

  • Dont’t be surprised if Kenoi gets a sweet heart plea deal and is given a deferred sentence and no jail time. Which means that if he behaves himself he will not have any record of
    a felony criminal conviction. As far as Harry Kim running again for Mayor, I must say I was disappointed with him as when the news came out about Kenoi’s criminal use of
    his county issued credit card for his personal expenses, he was unwilling to call Kenoi out on it. Kenoi was his very close associate but I would have expected that Harry Kim
    would be willing to call a spade, a spade but he did not and I was very disappointed.
    Which makes me think that Harry Kim is past his prime and has lost the moral authority and respect, he once enjoyed.
    I hope someone else who has the courage to stand for what is right runs for the office. That kind of leadership is sorely needed on the Big Island and has not been seen since
    Bernard Akana became Mayor.

  • Ai Billy, we liked you so much. You always knew how to make us laugh or how to talk so sincerely it brought tears to our eyes. Some poho…So sorry. Really you should have resigned already, but please resign now.

  • Impossible to feel compassion for this man. He did not reflect Big Island values by staying at expensive hotels, flying first class, and living the good life off the back of BI taxpayers. Today he is driving himself to the police station to be fingerprinted, photographed, and booked for what he did wrong. If he wants to avoid jail, he had better show contrition and remorse. I don’t care how many parks he built, right now I think he belongs in a cell so he can think things over. Pity his wife and kids.

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