We’ve been producing journalism in the public interest for 10 years, with the aim of making Hawaii a better place, and we have no plans to stop any time soon. But we need your help to keep this critical work going strong. For a limited time, donations to Civil Beat will be doubled, thanks to a matching gift from the NewsMatch program!
Civil Beat has raised $44,000 towards our $200,000 goal!
The alleged head of what police say is an Oahu organized crime ring and 10 of his associates have been charged with a series of federal felonies, including murder, murder-for-hire, kidnapping, use of a chemical weapon and racketeering, in a sweeping multi-agency investigation.
The indictment, which was unsealed Wednesday, detailed 22 charges against the 11 defendants, including charges against longtime Honolulu businessman Mike Miske for his alleged role in the kidnapping and murder of 21-year-old Jonathan Fraser, a close friend of Miske’s late son. Fraser disappeared in July 2016.
For three of the charges, Miske could face the death penalty.
These charges “strike a blow to organized crime in Hawaii,” said Kenji Price, U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii, at a press conference Wednesday. “No one is above the law,” he added.
The alleged crime ring, called “Miske Enterprise,” sought to inspire fear, enrich itself and protect its members from prosecution, Price said.
Federal investigators say it used a business owned by Miske — Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control — as headquarters for its criminal endeavors, which ranged from murder and bank fraud to using chemical weapons in a nightclub.
Miske is a convicted felon with a criminal history dating back to the 1990s.
Miske’s attorney, Thomas Otake, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Kenji Price, U.S. Attorney in the District of Hawaii, said at a press conference Wednesday that these charges “strike a blow to organized crime in Hawaii.”
Yoohyun Jung/Civil Beat
Miske and two other defendants, John Stancil and Kaulana Freitas, are accused of releasing chemical weapons — namely, chloropicrin, a herbicide or insecticide — at Honolulu nightclubs.
Miske was the co-owner of the M Nightclub, which closed down in November 2016. The club reopened as Encore but closed again. The indictment does not specify at which clubs the defendants released the toxins, and Price declined to provide further details at the press conference, saying the investigation is ongoing.
Some of the other criminal activities the organization allegedly engaged in included kidnapping, arson, robbery, assault, murder-for-hire, extortion, interfering with commerce, drug trafficking, tax evasion, money laundering and obstruction of justice, according to the indictment.
Miske Enterprise had the structure of an organized crime ring, operating several legitimate businesses and using violence to accomplish its goals, said Eli S. Miranda, the FBI special agent in charge.
FBI agents arrested Miske and seven others Wednesday. One defendant — Norman Akau III — remains at large, while two others, Lance Bermudez and Dae Han Moon, are in state custody. Eight others have received subject or target letters in connection with the investigation, though Price said he could not reveal the identity of the recipients.
This screenshot from a Hawaii News Now video shows FBI agents raiding Mike Miske’s home on Wednesday morning.
Hawaii News Now
The Murder Charge
Jonathan Fraser, who was 21 years old at the time, was last seen at his Hawaii Kai apartment in July 2016. His car was found about a week later, parked near the intersection of Summer Street and Kuliouou Road.
Fraser was a close friend of Miske’s son, Caleb-Jordan Miske-Lee who died from injuries sustained in a car accident that Fraser survived. Miske has long said Fraser was driving the car that was involved in a two-vehicle collision in November 2015.
In 2017, Miske filed a lawsuit that blamed Fraser and others for the death of his son. Although the lawsuit alleged that Fraser was the driver, an autopsy cited medics reports that Miske-Lee was in the driver seat.
Jonathan Fraser was reported missing July 31, 2016. His family suspected his disappearance is the result of foul play.
According to the indictment released Wednesday, around March 2016, Miske allegedly instructed a co-conspirator to develop a plan to murder Fraser. He also allegedly arranged for the purchase of a Boston Whaler boat to use to dispose of the body, the indictment says.
Investigators believe Fraser was kidnapped on July 30, 2016, the same day another Miske associate “took Fraser’s significant other on a ‘spa day,’ thereby ensuring that Fraser and his significant other would be separated from each other when Fraser was kidnapped,” the indictment says.
But some Hawaii Kai residents and neighborhood board members complained, saying the lights had been installed without approval and that the City Council voted to accept the gift after the fact.
Miske also played a role in the federal corruption investigation into former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, Katherine, a former deputy city prosecutor.
Miske was allegedly involved in the case of Honolulu police Sgt. Albert Lee, who faced criminal charges for driving under the influence and lying to investigators. Lee said he was being targeted by Katherine Kealoha for reporting that Miske had threatened an officer.
The day Lee crashed his car into a HECO structure, he was supposed to testify before a federal grand jury about his 2015 arrest of Miske, who was accused of threatening one of his officers.
Sign up for our FREE morning newsletter and face each day more informed.
Before you go . . .
For the past several months our nonprofit newsroom has worked beyond our normal capacity to provide accurate information, push for accountability, amplify smart ideas and new voices, and double down on facts and context to write deeply reported local stories.
The truth is, our evolution as a public service news organization over the past 10 years has prepared us for this moment in time, when what we do matters the most.
Reader support keeps our small newsroom afloat. If you value the work of our journalists, please consider making a tax-deductible gift.