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Judge dismisses COVID-19 violation case against U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams speaks at a press conference in Honolulu on Aug. 25.

    CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams speaks at a press conference in Honolulu on Aug. 25.

A Circuit judge approved a motion submitted by Honolulu Prosecutor Steve Alm seeking to dismiss charges against U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams and his aide who police cited in late August 2020 for allegedly violating an emergency order at a park on Oahu.

Judge Rowena Somerville approved the motion Tuesday.

Adams traveled to Hawaii to help Gov. David Ige launch COVID-19 surge testing across the state.

Alm submitted the motion Tuesday morning seekng to dismiss charges against Adams and his aide, Dennis Anderson-Villaluz. “A prosecutor’s primary goal is doing justice. And for every case that we look at, this one included, you have to look at the facts and the law and decide is prosecution going to help to achieve that goal or not. And based on all of the facts and circumstances here, we felt going forward in this case does not achieve that goal,” Alm said in an interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Tuesday.

Police cited Adams and his aide at Kualoa Regional Park in Kaneohe on the morning of Aug. 23.

A temporary shutdown of all Oahu beach parks was in place at the time under former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s emergency order to prevent large social gatherings in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Loitering or sitting on the beach was prohibited; however, individuals were still allowed to traverse a beach to enter the ocean during the shutdown.

The men’s tour guide, Kelmer Beck, took them to the park to go swimming. They walked to the ocean but decided not to go swimming because the water appeared murky, according to attorney Michael Green who represented Adams and Anderson-Villaluz.

During their walk back to the vehicle, the men briefly stopped twice when their tour guide took a photo of them with Chinaman’s Hat in the background and another photo with the Kualoa Mountains.

When they reached their vehicle, police officers approached them and cited them for allegedly violating the emergency order.

According to the citation, Adams told police he was visiting Hawaii to work with the governor for COVID-19 and didn’t know the parks were closed.

The state exempted Adams and his aide from the 14-day quarantine required of most visitors at the time.

In October, Beck pleaded no contest to a lesser offense of simple trespassing, a non-criminal violation, and paid a $100 fine.

In a separate matter, Adams posted on Twitter today that he has been asked to step down.

“I’ve been asked by the Biden team to step down as Surgeon General. Its been the honor of my life to serve this Nation, and I will do all I can to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to achieve and maintain health,” Adams tweeted.

In December, then President-elect Joe Biden nominated Dr. Vivek Murthy to serve as surgeon general. He previously served as surgeon general in President Barack Obama’s administration.

U.S. Surgeon General motion by Honolulu Star-Advertiser

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