Business as usual for Mayor Kenoi despite indictment, bench warrant

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A bench warrant for the arrest of Hawaii Island Mayor Billy Kenoi has officially been issued, but he has yet to turn himself in.

Police tell us that’s because the warrant hasn’t reached the records division.

Kenoi was indicted by a grand jury Wednesday for felony theft, misdemeanor theft, tampering with a government record, and false swearing.

The charges stem from claims of misuse of his government-issued credit card, or pCard.

According to managing director Randall Kurohara, Kenoi was working Thursday. He spoke to senior volunteers from Hilo at a luncheon in appreciation of their community service, and visited with a public works crew as they finished paving the Ho’olulu Complex ahead of the Merrie Monarch Festival.

He also had a staff meeting with his team, and is meeting on the operating budget which will be submitted to Council on April 13.

“We take pride in serving the people of Hawaii County with Mayor Kenoi. Our administration has eight more months in office and we will work hard until the very end,” Kurohara said.

Ken Goodenow is vice chair of the Hawaii County Board of Ethics, the same committee that was looking into an ethics complaint.

“These allegations are very serious. It is hard to believe he had any criminal intent, but that is not for me to say. That is going to be up to a jury,” he told KHON2. “We did the right thing by stepping back and letting the attorney general handle their investigation. I think it would have hindered the investigation had we not.”

We spoke to a Hawaii County councilwoman who is now calling for changes. Margaret Wille said now that an investigation has been completed, there needs to be change.

“For ethics, you are really looking at actions that were inconsistent with our code and trying to hold people to the highest level of standard, so I was very disappointed that the board basically reneged on its duty,” Wille said.

Wille said she is introducing legislation to raise the ethical bar in the county.

“I think one of the things that keeps happening is people saying we have a great mayor. He’s done a lot of good and nobody is saying he hasn’t done a lot of good, but the first question is, did he act inconsistent with the code of ethics and did he use money for personal uses?” she asked.

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