A small victory for Hawaii Island Mayor Billy Kenoi after a judge tossed out several charges against him.
Court proceedings resumed Monday with the dismissal of three charges of Tampering with a Government Record.
The move came after Kenoi’s attorneys asked that the mayor be acquitted of all counts.
Kenoi is still charged with several counts of theft in the second and third degrees, and false swearing.
The day began with words straight from Kenoi’s mouth, with the playing of an interview at the State Capitol in 2015, when Kenoi was grilled by reporters of his pCard use.
“Clearly, I should have known better,” he said then. “I don’t have a credit card, just debit. As long as it’s reimbursed, as long as I didn’t intend to shift burden to (taxpayers), I was under the impression it was okay.”
But the state’s next witness, forensic accountant James Cigan, made this revelation in court: “I found that Mayor Kenoi had a Discover card.”
Cigan told the jury he pored through four and half years of bank statements from Kenoi and his wife, between November 2011 to May 2015.
“Twenty-one payments that I saw in the seven bank accounts,” he said.
“So these are payments that are made onto the Discover card?” the prosecution asked.
“Yep. Payments were made to Discover,” Cigan said.
The prosecution rested early, because the judge did not allow the state’s lead investigator, Daniel Hanagami, to take the stand. It was a pre-trial argument that lasted over an hour.
Kenoi’s attorneys also began presenting their case Monday afternoon, calling three witnesses to the stand, including Kauai County Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.
Carvalho told the jury he and Kenoi were good friends, and said they attended a mayors conference on the mainland together. He called it a social gathering, where fellow mayors built strong relationships.
“For me, as mayor, that’s where we have meetings, office meetings, but this is more on a personal level. You can talk about families in that conversation, and then get right into the business part of it. It’s just more developed relationships with your constituents,” he said.
Counts 1 and 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 and 4: Theft in the Third Degree, misdemeanors each punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
**NOW DISMISSED** Counts 5, 6 and 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.