HILO, Hawaii – Hawaii Mayor Billy Kenoi was acquitted of all charges Tuesday in his criminal trial in Hilo circuit court.
A 12 person jury of Hawaii County residents, after listening to the case against the Mayor in the two week trial, found the mayor not guilty of two counts of second degree theft, two counts of third degree theft, and one count of false swearing for alleged misuse of his Hawaii County purchasing card. Previously, Judge Dexter Del Rosario had dismissed three other counts, saying no jury could reasonably find him guilty.
Mayor Kenoi hugged his family members and supporters, but made no comments after the verdict. Nor did the State’s prosecuting attorney, Kevin Takata.
Kenoi’s attorneys had something to say outside the courtroom.
“From the get-go we described the false accusations as flimsy,” said defense attorney Todd Eddins. “The trial established that that characterization was an understatement. This was an odious attempt to take down a once-in-a-generation good decent man.”
The State attorney general’s office spent one year investigating Mayor Kenoi’s spending of county funds. Their case was largely based on whether the Mayor should have purchased alcohol with the county card.
“The crime of theft requires proof a person intended to permanently deprive his victim of what he stole,” Attorney General Doug Chin said. “The prosecution argued that not paying back funds to the county of Hawaii until after the press caught him was proof of Mayor Kenoi’s intent. We respect the verdict and thank the jurors for their service.”
“Billy is a man of this aina and a man of our people and a man of our community,” said kumu Moses Kaho’okele Crabbe. “He has done Godly work.”