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Admission ends ethics case against Kenoi

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON / POOL PHOTO

    Mayor Billy Kenoi stands with his attorneys Todd Eddins (right) and Richard Sing (left) during his trial on Oct. 18 in Hilo Circuit Court.

HILO >>

Hawaii Island Mayor Billy Kenoi has acknowledged in an agreement there is probable cause that he violated ethics code by using a county-issued credit card for personal purchases.

Kenoi’s lawyers, Todd Eddins and Richard Sing, issued the advisory opinion Wednesday as part of a deal with the Hawaii County Board of Ethics.

The agreement will prevent an investigative hearing from taking place in response to the ethics complaint, The Hawaii Tribune Herald reports.

It comes just more than a week after a jury acquitted Kenoi on all counts for the card purchases prosecutors alleged did not qualify as county business.

Before offering Wednesday’s deal, Kenoi’s attorneys argued that the trial outcome proved Kenoi did nothing wrong.

“It’s been established the mayor is not a thief. The mayor is not a liar,” Sing said. “We object to the process. He’s been acquitted.”

Some board members expressed dissatisfaction that Kenoi did not attend the meeting, which took place in the same building as his Hilo office.

“This really warranted his presence,” said Chairwoman Ku Kahakalau, who had prepared questions for Kenoi.

Kapaau resident Lanric Hyland filed the complaint in the spring of 2015, alleging the violation of county ethics code, which prohibits the use of public property for anything other than a public purpose.

The board delayed the complaint multiple times because of concerns that it could impact Kenoi’s trial in Hilo Circuit Court.

Hyland said he was satisfied with the agreement.

“That’s the best I’m going to get, so that’ll do,” he said. Hyland added that “it would have been nice if it was a bit more timely.”

The agreement recommends that the mayor stop using the credit card, which Kenoi has not had since the state Procurement Office revoked it in April 2015. Kenoi’s attorneys have said he has paid back the county for his personal purchases.

Eddins and Sing declined to comment following the decision and said the mayor would not comment.

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  • Can’t trust majority of these politicians. They may be good when they start but as time goes by they start picking up extra baggage. He may run for office again but this will come back.

    • Cant trust their lawyers either. To say that “the trial outcome proved Kenoi did nothing wrong”, really? So that means that OJ did nothing wrong either?

  • Talk about a white wash, even if the criminal trial didn’t result in a conviction…Kenoi’s use of the government credit card for Club Evergreen, purchase of the surfboard, buying alcohol was at least an ethics violation and he should have been investigated for spending the taxpayers money for his personal use……such blatant corruption…..

  • Since when you go to court and tell the judge I had probable cause that I did something wrong and get off. Why did they take away his card if he did nothing wrong. Sounds like a Hilary C. going on in Hilo.

  • So this is what our taxes go for…splurging on the wrong things by our politicians. Not only did the nation need a change, but, so does Hawaii… but we keep letting the same old “Bozoes” get away with it. He the first, and he won’t be the last!

  • Kanakas like us would already be in prison. Ali`i like Kenoi can do whatever cuz public money is their money, everything belongs to them. Just like in the good old days.

  • A jury finds him ‘not guilty’ of the theft charges but he admits through his liars that the improper use of his P-card was unethical. Pray tell, how is something unethical not criminal? The man is a thief but he only admits to being a liar?

    • Hopefully everyone will understand this explanation as given. Ethics and law differ in that ethics are social guidelines based on principles and values while laws are rules and regulations that have specific penalties. There are no guidelines for punishment in the misuse of the pcard and the prosecution lost the criminal case because they could not prove that a crime had been committed. The pcard charges were determined legal and the debts had been repaid. Sorry, no conviction but the trial was punishment in the form of a public shaming. Going by the comments here I would say mission accomplished.

      • The prosecution’s case was uphill from the start. How to prove “intent” to defraud when Mayor Kenoi did make an attempt to repay the county for personal expenses? In my mind, the ethics route might’ve had more impact. The penalties may not be as severe if found culpable, but the stigma might’ve been greater. But this option is out the window now with the plea bargain. Seems the prosecution dropped the ball not once but twice in this case. It’s some comfort to know, though, that, thanks to the media, the mayor has been tried in the court of public opinion and found guilty of poor judgement and practices that most consider unethical.

  • Congrats Billyboy, tread lightly you were smarter than the law this time. Count your blessings and don’t push your luck. Habits are hard to change, best you do it now and don’t look back.

  • He is a worst crook that people claim Hillary is. Charging alcohol at longs and purchasing a surf board on the county’s charge card ? He should recluse himself from the public forge rest of his life. Even Rod Tam was found guilty and for way less than what kenoi did. I feel sorry for his family(especially his kids) who might have to answer questions for the rest of their lives as to his guilt.

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