With the trial in the case of former Honolulu business owner and alleged gangster Michael Miske, along with 10 co-defendants, still nine months away and likely to be delayed further, two defendants have now asked the court to reverse prior decisions and allow them to be freed under conditions to be set by the court.

Attorneys representing John Blaine Stancil, 34, Miske’s half-brother, and Jason Yokoyama, 35, former partner in Miske’s M Nightclub and trustee of Miske’s revocable living trust, have each filed motions asking their respective clients be released pending trial. In each case, the motions cited the willingness of the defendants’ parents to put up their homes as part of any required bail.

Stancil has been housed at the federal detention center since his arrest in July 2020. He faces 11 charges, including participating in a racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit murder for hire, assault and attempted murder — two charges related to attacks on Honolulu nightclubs using toxic chemicals intended for termite treatment — drug trafficking and several weapons offenses.

Jason Yokoyama, one of two co-defendants asking the court to reverse prior decisions and allow them to be freed, was a former partner in Miske’s M Nightclub. Screenshot/Hawaii News Now

Stancil’s attorney, Walter J. Rodby, looks past the charges and paints a picture of his client as a father of a 2-year-old son, a lifelong Hawaii resident who has no serious criminal history, no history of drug use and a solid employment history.

“He has never been charged and convicted for any type of narcotics offense,” Rodby’s motion argues. “He has never been charged and convicted for any type of firearms offense. He has never been charged and convicted for any type of felonious assault.”

And, Rodby argued, “Stancil’s parents verified that he is not a violent person, and that he is not a flight risk.”

Rodby says Stancil has “a strong history of stable employment.” He said Stancil was employed by his brother’s “Kamaaina Pest Control” in 2004, referring to Miske’s well-known company, Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control, which the government alleges was used as a base for Miske’s criminal activities. Later, Stancil was a member of Teamsters Union Local 996, and employed as a driver on various movie productions. Rodby says that, if granted bail and allowed by the court, Stancil intends to go back to work as a Teamster driver in order to support his family.

Stancil also reported being employed by McCabe Hamilton as a stevedore at the time he was arrested on an assault charge in May 2013, although Rodby’s motion made no reference to his work on Honolulu’s docks.

Prosecutors, however, argue that the court previously determined Stancil was a danger to the community and a flight risk, and that his situation has only gotten worse since that time.

A second superseding indictment issued by a federal grand jury in July describes two charges of attempted murder and Stancil’s alleged participation in a drug trafficking conspiracy as “Special Sentencing Factors” that would extend the maximum sentence Stancil faces on the racketeering conspiracy charge from 20 years to life in prison if any of the special factors is proven at trial.

Prosecutors argue that Stancil’s exposure to a possible maximum of life in prison clearly makes him a flight risk as well as a danger to the community.

“The evidence against the Defendant in this case is very strong and conviction is likely,” prosecutors say.

A hearing on Rodby’s motion for reconsideration of the court’s prior decision favoring Stancil’s continued detention is scheduled for Wednesday morning before Magistrate Judge Kenneth Mansfield.

Jason Yokoyama has been held in Honolulu’s Federal Detention Center after being named in the second superseding indictment unsealed on July 30. He is charged with a single count of being a participant in Miske’s racketeering conspiracy, a charge which carries a maximum 20-year sentence. Prosecutors allege Miske and his associates were involved in a variety of crimes over a 20-year period, using his companies as cover to conceal the criminal activities, which ranged from kidnapping and murder to drug trafficking, money laundering, armed robbery and tax fraud.

And prosecutors allege that as part of the Miske Enterprise, Yokoyama participated in or facilitated acts of murder, kidnapping, arson, wire fraud, structuring of cash transactions and bank fraud.

In a plea agreement with prosecutors filed prior to Yokoyama’s indictment, Miske’s longtime accountant admitted to conspiring with Miske and two others to file false tax returns over an eight-year period. One co-conspirator was identified only by the initials “J.Y.” and appears to have been a reference to Yokoyama, who is now alleged to have participated in several types of financial fraud admitted to by Miske’s accountant.

Yokoyama was working with Miske for at least a decade prior to his indictment, according to court files and business registration records.
John Blaine Stancil, who is asking the court to reconsider its earlier ruling, is Miske’s half-brother. Hawaii News Now

In a 2011 court appearance, Yokoyama identified himself to the judge as operations manager for Miske’s Kamaaina Termite. The same year, he was listed as an officer, along with Miske, of several new companies, including one that went on to do business as M Nightclub. Prosecutors allege the club, along with the other businesses Yokoyama was involved in, were actually owned and controlled by Miske.

Yokoyama’s attorney, William Harrison, has asked for reconsideration of an Aug. 6 order by Magistrate Judge Wes Reber Porter requiring Yokoyama to be held without bail until trial. Harrison also filed a separate motion to require prosecutors to disclose witness statements by two informants identified only as CW1 and CW2, which prosecutors cited to justify Yokoyama’s continued detention.

Prosecutors say the two cooperating witnesses would testify Yokoyama took part in planning and facilitating the 2016 kidnapping and murder of Jonathan Fraser.

Harrison’s motion for disclosure of the witness statements was heard on Friday. It took Federal Magistrate Judge Kenneth Mansfield less than 10 minutes to hear arguments and then quickly rule against the motion.

Mansfield agreed with Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Inciong that there is no legal authority requiring these statements to be disclosed at this time.

“To grant the defendant’s motion would be completely unprecedented and without legal authority,” Inciong argued during Friday’s hearing.

When Mansfield indicated his inclination to agree with prosecutors, Harrison conceded the statements would not fall in the legal category of “Jencks” materials, which are subject to mandatory disclosure. Instead, Harrison told Mansfield he based his request for disclosure on “due process” and “fairness” rather than on a specific, applicable rule or law.

Mansfield bluntly said he disagreed. In addition, he noted discovery requests in the case are being handled through San Diego attorney John C. Ellis, who has been appointed to coordinate discovery in the complicated case, which is based on an investigation lasting at least five years and involving numerous agencies and multiple defendants.

Harrison replied that he has been in contact with Ellis, but has not yet received the evidence against Yokoyama.

Following conclusion of the disclosure hearing, prosecutors filed an answer to Harrison’s request to allow Yokoyama to be released on bond.

The government’s position is simple. The court has previously found Yokoyama to be both a danger to the community and a flight risk, again arguing “the evidence … in this case is very strong and conviction is likely.”

“Yokoyama has offered nothing to change this Court’s original finding of detention,” prosecutors argue. The only change is that Yokoyama’s parents have offered to put up $150,000 of equity in their home as bond if he is released, an offer prosecutors say does not “sufficiently negate the Defendant’s risk of flight.”

Further, prosecutors pointed to Yokoyama’s 2015 purchase of a Lamborghini Gallardo sports car for $227,118, including financing costs, as an example of his ability to tap into financial resources, including those of Miske. They previously disclosed Miske selected Yokoyama to act as trustee of his revocable living trust.

“It is precisely this type of access to large sums of money – an essential ingredient to anyone’s ability to flee from a prosecution – that the Government spoke of at Yokoyama’s (August 6) detention hearing,” the latest response memo argues.

A hearing is scheduled for Friday on Harrison’s motion to reconsider the decision to keep Yokoyama behind bars.

An Important Note

If you consider nonprofit, independent news to be an essential service that helps keep our community informed, please include Civil Beat among your year-end contributions.

And for those who can, consider supporting us with a monthly gift, which helps keep our content free for those who need it most.

This year, we are making it our goal to raise $225,000 in reader support by December 31, to support our news coverage statewide and throughout the Pacific. Are you ready to help us continue this work?

About the Author

  • Ian Lind
    Ian Lind is an award-winning investigative reporter and columnist who has been blogging daily for more than 20 years. He has also worked as a newsletter publisher, public interest advocate and lobbyist for Common Cause in Hawaii, peace educator, and legislative staffer. Lind is a lifelong resident of the islands. Read his blog here. Opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat's views.