The state Attorney General’s office said Wednesday that a Big Island  grand jury has indicted Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi.

The charges are two counts of felony theft, two additional counts of misdemeanor theft, three counts of tampering with a government record and one count of false swearing, meaning making false statements under oath.

The charges stem from alleged incidents of misconduct from 2011 through 2015 involving the mayor’s personal use of a county-issued credit card.

Hawaii Mayor Billy Kenoi at the Capitol in January.
Hawaii Mayor Billy Kenoi at the Capitol in January. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

They include:

  • Second-degree theft, Class C felonies each punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
  • Third-degree theft, misdemeanors each punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
  • Tampering with a government record, misdemeanors each punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
  • False swearing, a petty misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Attorney General Doug Chin said in a statement, “The Department of the Attorney General sought this indictment after an intensive investigation that lasted almost a year.”

An indictment is a finding of probable cause and “is not a criminal conviction,” the AG’s Office noted.

A bench warrant has been issued for Kenoi’s arrest, something a spokesperson for the attorney general described as standard procedure.

A message seeking comment was left with Kenoi’s office Wednesday afternoon.

Kenoi was seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party until the scandal broke in March 2015.

The Hawaii Tribune Herald first reported that Kenoi spent nearly $900 at a hostess bar in Honolulu in 2013.

Kenoi had blocked the newspaper’s requests for his credit card statements for years. He ended up repaying $9,559 to the county after reports on his misspending were published.

Kenoi apologized last year for the expenditures, which included $1,200 for a surfboard.

His executive assistants also charged nearly $143,000 on their county credit cards, including questionable expenses such as airfare for a local surfer to attend a competition in California in 2012.

Read the indictment:

About the Authors