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Kenoi tears up as he testifies in his corruption trial

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    Mayor Billy Kenoi stands with his attorneys Todd Eddins (right) and Richard Sing (left) during his trial Tuesday in Hilo Circuit Court.

Hawaii island Mayor Billy Kenoi took the stand in his own defense this morning and teared up as he talked about his humble upbringing in Kalapana, where his family had little resources and were embarrassed that friends had to use an outhouse.

Kenoi, wearing a dark suit, crisp white shirt, but no tie, teared up and, with a shaky voice, talked about the values of “aloha” he learned as one of eight children.

Kenoi testified for about 40 minutes and recounted his education, where he had poor grades, but support from teachers who led him to law school.

Under questioning from his attorney, Todd Eddins, Kenoi began describing how he assembled his first mayoral team when Judge Dexter Del Rosario called for a lunch-time recess.

Kenoi is scheduled to resume his testimony at 1 p.m. today.

He faces five criminal charges over misuse of his government purchasing card. Del Rosario dismissed three counts of tampering with government records Monday due to insufficient evidence.

In all, Kenoi had faced eight counts related to 15 transactions that he charged to his county-issued pCard, or purchasing card, from 2011 to 2014.

The remaining charges include four counts of theft — two of them second-degree felonies and two third-degree — and one count of false swearing or making a false statement under oath.

Kenoi has acknowledged paying the county back $31,000 in unauthorized personal expenses charged on the pCard. Kenoi charged a total of about $129,000 on his pCard, including alcohol purchases.

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    • it would be safe to surmise that ALL LAWYERS are well versed in the art of “presenting the emotional aspects” of their specific cases. everyone who has been in college taking speech 101 toward their degree goal can attest to that “emoting” is an effective communicating tool – whether selling a club membership, cars, life insurance, etc! those who have never heard of speech 101 cannot even relate to what i am talking about. it is something no one ever puts on their resume – but makes full use of!

  • Billy is a phenomenal actor, a gifted bulls*** artist and this comes naturally to him. Problem is, everyone already knows this. I highly doubt he’ll be convicted but this shameless performance is just one more nail in the coffin of a political career once destined to reach the very top.

  • First they send in Sam Choy to clown it up and loosen up the court. Then Kenoi’s crocodile tears. Do they think Hawaii’s legal justice system is that dumb??? I’m not sure what the answer is….

      • Splurging to buy meals for a bunch of volunteers, “using his own card,” IS buying votes. On one hand, that kind of thing could be seen as a kind gesture. On the other hand, it could be buying votes by a person who’s not responsible with public money. Now, which one is Kenoi?

  • Oh boy, he took up acting in school and is he good. What a joker he is. I hope they see right through his lies. He knew what he was doing. Lock his lying ass in jail and throw away the key. It is so sad to see someone in his position act like that. Billy boy you are good. Sam Choy also told a good story about Billy boy. If he gets off then everyone employee by the City and State should use their P-card as Billy boy did and when called on it, same excuse as his, don’t forget the tears
    always works.

    • Agree. Also, Billy is no victim. He spat in the face of the public and repaid nothing until caught. He also lives in a grand home in Volcano. His wife is very wealthy. Private school for the kids. Nothing too good for Billy.

      • We all know he didn’t pay the money back until the media questioned, but what does him having a grand home in Volcano, his wife’s wealth and his kids attending private school have to do with the case?

        • Derick, it has nothing to do with the case. It’s off topic and bringing it up says more about Allie than Kenoi.

        • Wait, he’s a public servant. His wife is an airline employee. How do they have a grand home in Volcano???

    • just like the other Hawaiian before him, gov. waihee, they don’t realize that when they show their aloha they should be using the their own money instead of the taxpayer’s monies. why do you think this state is in such a hole? waihee spread and spread da aloha like there was no tomorrow!

  • this a an act; he has no remorse. as mayor, he felt entitled and his drinking problem has led to all the liquor purchases with the pcard. there is no need to have alcohol with every business meeting. if he is found not guilty, he will laugh at the prosecutors and jurors. but he knows the truth and it will haunt him for life. lying to get away with something is not a good thing. his day will come.

  • Kenoi needs to try for a part in Five0. He would be a natural playing a local crooked politician or organized crime boss. Kind of like life imitating art.
    As far as Sam Choi, his defense of Kenoi is kind of like a brother/brother thing, you know, all the brown guys need to stick together no matter what.

  • The judge and prosecution team should never have allowed that line of testimony. Using an outhouse in Kalapana has exactly zero relevance to misuse of public funds and betrayal of public trust as an elected official.

  • Sam is making all his money in Seattle know so he doesn’t care if he lost a lot of credibility standing up for his Billy. Hope the jurors see through all the BS.

  • People back then without birth control had it hard. With 8 children poverty was certain, and if the next generations would have carried on the same, wide spread starvation would have been their ” birth control”. In many parts of the world this vicious circle continues and even in Hawaii some religion tells its disciples to overpopulate.

  • Crocodile tears! People in Hawaii are particularly good at fake emotions and emotional blackmail! Seem to be the way of the world here! At least he isn’t comfortably sitting in a Lazboy and saying that he is getting ready to jump off the Waikki Prince! Does Hilo have one?

  • i am wondering how many of the folks who have commented are from the Big Island? It is interesting that he has such strong community support on Hawaii County, presumably for all the great things he has done for that community. I probably might have had the same negative reaction as most of the folks who have commented here and on principal, I probably would have said that he should be charged for theft. However, having had recent interaction with Mayor Kenoi on a project on the Big Island, I have come to understand why the Hawaii County folks are so supportive of his leadership and I am more inclined now to give him the benefit of the doubt that he did not “intend” to steal from the Countyʻs coffers for his own personal use. He really did have an upbringing that is a heartfelt story which demonstrates that hard work can lead to success and I really feel that what he has done to gain the support of the Big Island Community is a way that he is paying back to society. Donʻt get me wrong, his misuse of his P-Card was definitely inappropriate and he has admitted that he made a mistake. But it would be a shame to knock somebody down for a misjudgment which he has acknowledged given what he has been able to accomplish for the people of Hawaii.

    • Ahonui I too live on the Big Island and not a fool for appreciating all the good things he did for this community. Yes this trial casts a shadow over his accomplishments, but he did overcome major odds to be where he is today. Unlike Allie, he did graduate from Law School vs her attending college forever and off the wall opinions. Let the court define justice and if not, it’s no one’s but the court, but I believe they will rule a fair and just decision.

  • I’d say if I were a juror the only issues are:

    Did he claim some official business reimbursements when the gatherings were just social and personal events?

    Did he lie to investigators about those events?

    If the answer is “yes” then the man is guilty. His Big Island background is immaterial.

      • IRT klastri: The article says he has been charged with “four counts of theft and one count of false swearing or making a false statement under oath.” After reading the article, a normal person would presume those would be the things of which the defendant would be guilty — or not guilty. But rather than have a conversation, your stock in trade is belittling others so that you can feel superior. Hope it’s working for you. You don’t have much else.

  • I would like to say this. Kenoi spent county money on local volunteers who helped out with community services? Let me tell you a little story about a senior fair held for Honolulu county during the Thanksgiving season at the Blaisdell Center…little old ladies and men with walkers and canes, meandering through stalls set up by senior groups from around Oahu, selling baked goods, crafts, and little gifts to support their clubs throughout the year…everyone on a fixed income, or perhaps no income, shelling out a few coins and dollars to get something to eat or give away. There was the usual concession stand set up if you wanted to spend $3 for a bottle of water or get a $5 hot dog, and next to it: carts with big boxed lunches for the twenty-somethings who came spilling out of one of the side conference rooms to hear a presentation on rail and bike lanes…no water for the volunteers helping the seniors. Frankly, let’s go beyond that, maybe there was water for the volunteers (I didn’t get one), what about giving a little hot lunch to the seniors who came down for this event? You know legalized thievery stinks just as much.

  • And the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor goes to…..Billy Kenoi! Best Actor goes to Kirk Caldwell. You notice his soft, feel good TV advertisements. And, it’s working since he’s got the lead in the polls. Just goes to show you, you can beat the heck out of Oahu voters but they’ll keep coming back for more.

  • Oh, please give me a break…..Kenoi tearing up while taking the stand and testifying in his behalf…..give me a break…………that’s how he got elected to Mayor….he can play the crowd and have them sympathize with this good old local boy from the Big Isle who is just trying to do what’s best for his constituents….what a joke!!! I HOPE HE GETS TO READ THIS!!!

  • Judge lets Sam make a mockery of his courtroom, Billy going to the well with the waterworks…good job by the defense. Prosecutors are a laugh to let it get out of hand.

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