Hawaii businessman and alleged crime boss Michael Miske will remain locked up at the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu, at least for the foreseeable future.
On Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth Mansfield ruled that Miske was too dangerous to the community and a potential flight risk based on evidence presented by federal prosecutors via teleconference due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Mansfield did not buy in to arguments made by Miske’s attorneys, Thomas Otake and Lynn Panagakos, that their client should be released on bail because of his ties to the community and his past charitable giving through his company, Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control.
Mansfield also didn’t budge on Otake and Panagakos’ argument that Miske should be released to his home because of the potential threat caused to his life by the coronavirus due to his high blood pressure or its effects on his ability to meet with his legal team while held in Federal Detention Center due to strict social distancing requirements.
While Mansfield agreed that the limited interaction between inmates and their families and lawyers has “come at a cost,” he didn’t see a better alternative given the rising community spread of COVID-19 on Oahu.
“He’s basically in a position where he has nothing to lose.” — Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Inciong
“You are arguably safer at FDC than you are at our Costcos, our Walmarts and our McDonalds,” Mansfield said. “Their numbers are extremely low. You can argue over whether (the restrictions) were worth the price, but it has worked and COVID is extremely low at FDC.”
Miske is a multimillionaire business owner with a well-documented history of violence. He’s accused of operating a long-standing criminal enterprise that was involved in everything from drug trafficking and robbery to kidnapping and murder.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Inciong told Mansfield at Tuesday’s detention hearing that in his 16 years prosecuting criminals that Miske posed the greatest threat. The fact that he faces a possible death penalty makes it all the more likely he could try to run.
“He’s basically in a position where he has nothing to lose,” Inciong said.
Miske is charged with orchestrating the abduction and murder of 21-year-old Jonathan Fraser, who was involved in a car accident in 2015 that killed Miske’s son. He’s also charged along with another defendant, his half-brother John Stancil, of trying to murder another man who refused to kill Fraser on his behalf.
Inciong said there are more victims than just those referenced in the indictment.
According to investigators, Miske had created a bounty system based on percentages to indicate how bad he wanted to scare or hurt someone. Twenty percent meant simple intimidation while 50% to 80% meant causing physical injury that could put someone in the hospital. An order of 100% meant murder.
“We have identified over two dozen victims from the period of 2003 to late 2018 that were either assaulted by Mr. Miske himself or by others at his direction,” Inciong said. “The vast majority of these were purely innocent citizens who were just going about their business, and who had no idea who Michael Miske was before their encounter with him.”
Similarly, federal investigators uncovered a series of cases in which Miske disobeyed, threatened or intimidated Honolulu police officers. So far court records have only documented a single incident from 2015 in which Miske warned an officer who had pulled him over to “be careful” and that he could “go to the top of the food chain.”
Inciong detailed other events over the years, including one in which Miske fled the scene of a traffic stop in his vehicle, dragging an officer with him for 20 to 30 feet as he sped away.
On another occasion, Inciong said, Miske tried to intimidate an off-duty police officer by taking pictures of him while he was having dinner.
“When you add into that the other charges that I’ve addressed in my memo with the kidnapping, the charges of murder for hire and, of course, the meticulously planned and premeditated murder of Jonathan Fraser,” Inciong said, “the government has clearly met its burden of clear and convincing evidence.”
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