Jurors have found Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi not guilty of all theft charges against him.

Prosecutors had accused Kenoi of using his government spending card, or pCard, illegally. Kenoi used it for thousands of dollars’ worth of personal expenses. He was most heavily questioned for his purchases of alcohol, though he also used the card to pay for hostess bar expenses and a surfboard.

Kenoi says he has reimbursed Hawaii County for the personal charges.

Two of the charges were felony counts of theft.

On Oct. 24, Judge Dexter De Rosario threw out three lesser charges related to tampering with a government record.

Hawaii Mayor Billy Kenoi during WAM meeting at the Capitol. 25 jan 2016. photograph by Cory Lum/Civil Beat
Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi at the Capitol in January. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The charges  were filed after West Hawaii Today reporter Nancy Cook Lauer reported that Kenoi’s personal spending had prompted a state attorney general investigation and ethics complaint.

State Attorney General Doug Chin said in a press release after the verdict that theft convictions require that the defendant “intended to permanently deprive his victim of what he stole,” and the prosecution held that Kenoi’s failure to repay the county until “the press caught him” proved such intent.

On March 23, Kenoi was indicted on eight counts stemming from accusations throughout 2011-2015.

In addition to the two counts of felony theft and three counts of tampering with a government record, Kenoi was charged with two counts of misdemeanor theft and one of false swearing under oath.

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