HILO >> It’s now up to a Hilo jury to decide whether Mayor Billy Kenoi should be punished on any of five criminal counts against Kenoi for the use of his county issued purchasing card, or pCard.
Following six days of testimony that spanned two weeks, deputy state Attorney General Kevin Takata told jurors in his closing arguments Monday that “rules apply to everyone except the mayor. Apathy is the accomplice to political corruption. The verdict is yours. Do justice. Do equal justice.”
After Takata’s initial closing argument, Kenoi defense attorney Todd Eddins displayed the words “NOT GUILTY” on a courtroom screen throughout his own closing argument.
Eddins ended by telling jurors that “Mayor Kenoi’s an honorable, decent family man who worked tirelessly for this county… and you’re lucky to have him. And he’s been wrongfully accused by the state government. … It’s an opportunity and privilege for you to right a wrong. It’s an opportunity and privilege for you to tell the state government it’s wrong.”
Eddins then touched his heart and said, “Restore a good man. I hand William P. Kenoi over to you.”
Kenoi originally faced eight counts related to 15 transactions that he charged to his pCard from 2011 to 2014.
Following the prosecution’s case, Judge Dexter Del Rosario dismissed three counts related to tampering with government documents, leaving Kenoi to face four counts of theft — two of them second-degree felonies and two third-degree — and one count of making a false statement under oath.
The theme of Kenoi’s defense has been that the charismatic and personable mayor used his connections from Washington, D.C., to Honolulu to the Big Island to regularly entertain people in government and private business — often in after-hours gatherings involving alcohol — to keep money flowing to Hawaii island.