Another co-defendant in the federal racketeering case against former Honolulu businessman and alleged criminal gang leader Michael Miske Jr. has flipped and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in the case.
Harry Kauhi, 42, whose nickname is “Harry Boy,” appeared before Judge Derrick Watson by video conference from the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu Thursday morning to plead guilty as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.
Kauhi entered guilty pleas to being a member of a racketeering conspiracy which Miske controlled and directed, and to taking part with several others in the 2016 robbery of another drug dealer at gunpoint in which several pounds of methamphetamine were stolen from the dealer’s car.
Each charge carries a potential maximum sentence of 20 years, along with a fine of up to $250,000, and an additional period of up to three years of supervised release. However, neither charge covered by the guilty plea requires a mandatory minimum sentence.
In exchange for his plea and promise of future cooperation, prosecutors agreed to drop four additional charges against Kauhi contained in the Second Superseding Indictment issued by a federal grand jury in July.
The charges to be dropped included murder-for-hire, drug trafficking and two weapons offenses, which carried harsher potential penalties, including mandatory minimum sentences and, in one case, a sentence to be served consecutively after other prison terms were completed.
Prosecutors have now wrapped up plea deals with at least 10 members or associates of what is being referred to as the Miske Enterprise.
Kauhi is the third of Miske’s 12 co-defendants to plead guilty, along with at least seven other members or associates of the Miske Enterprise who were charged separately from Miske and his co-defendants. All have agreed to testify in other proceedings involving enterprise members, including cooperating with ongoing investigations, or appearing if requested for grand jury or trial testimony.
Failure to comply with the terms of their plea agreements could lead to their prosecution on all of the original charges.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Inciong said during the hearing that in addition to two charges covered by the guilty pleas, Kauhi also admitted to agreeing to taking part in two murder-for-hire plots, several robberies and drug trafficking.
In one case, Kauhi accepted a contract to kill an unnamed Waimanalo man as part of a murder-for-hire scheme because Miske suspected the targeted victim had been cooperating with law enforcement. Kauhi accepted a down payment of several thousand dollars, but did not take any further action to carry out the murder, Inciong said.
Although the murder contract was conveyed to Kauhi through Wayne Miller, a close and trusted associate of Miske, Kauhi understood the offer came from Miske, Inciong told the judge.
In addition, he said Kauhi assisted in another attempted murder by serving as the driver for Miller and another man, Norman Akau, who had agreed to carry out the murder-for-hire plan in exchange for a $50,000 payment offered by Miske.
Kauhi drove as they followed the intended victim from his residence to work and back for several days, Inciong said during Thursday’s hearing. Then they used a GPS locator to track the victim, identified only as “Victim-1,” to a plate lunch restaurant on Sand Island, where Akau planned to shoot him.
The hit was called off at the last minute when Miller said he had been unable to remove the GPS tracker from the victim’s car in time.
Both Miller and Akau have previously pleaded guilty. During a plea change hearing in June, Akau described the intended victim as a “union rep” who was in a dispute with Miske over access to jobs on the docks.
Several of Miske’s alleged associates were employed as stevedores on the docks in Honolulu, including Miske’s late son, Caleb, and his half-brother, John Stancil.
Judge Watson asked Kauhi about Miske’s role in the attempted murder of Victim-12.
“As you understood it, this was at the direction of Mr. Miske, Jr.?”
“Yes,” Kauhi answered.
Similarly, Watson asked about Kauhi’s admission of drug trafficking, including that he had provided “several pounds” of methamphetamine to Jacob “Jake” Smith, another admitted enterprise member, between 2016 and 2018.
During an earlier proceeding, prosecutors alleged Kauhi had provided a total of approximately six pounds of meth to Smith and other enterprise members during that period, and had once bragged of having 50 pounds of cocaine to distribute.
“Did you benefit in your drug activities from the protection the enterprise afforded you?”
Again, Kauhi provided a one-word answer. “Yes,” he said.
Such testimony is important in tying Miske to the diverse and apparently somewhat autonomous criminal activities undertaken by members and associates who acted as part of the Miske Enterprise. Although Miske was not directly involved in each alleged crime, prosecutors appear to be establishing that those who were part of the broader conspiracy knew they were acting under the general control and, more importantly, protection provided by Mike Miske and his widely known reputation for violence.
Kauhi was previously charged in March 2000 with five counts of attempted murder, along with criminal property damage, unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle, and a weapons offense as a result of an incident at Sandy Beach in August 1999, just a month before Kauhi’s 20th birthday.
According to police reports and witness statements at the time, Kauhi was in a large group drinking and partying in a parking lot at Sandy Beach at around 3 a.m. on the morning of Aug. 7, 1999.
Kauhi allegedly exchanged words with one of four friends that were part of a smaller group there at the same time, and “called out” the man as he headed back to the car where his friends were waiting. According to witness statements, Kauhi then returned to his truck, took off a gold chain, pulled an automatic pistol from under the passenger seat, and returned to confront the men as they attempted to leave. Kauhi struck the man through an open window, then broke the car’s windshield, sunroof, and two windows by hitting them with the butt of the gun, while yelling back to his friends, “That’s how you do it!”
Kauhi then fired three shots at the car as it drove away, grazing one of the occupants.
Kauhi pleaded guilty to reduced multiple charges of reckless endangerment, criminal property damage and firearms violations as part of a plea deal. He was sentenced to two 10-year terms and five 5-year terms, with the sentences running concurrently, according to a criminal history report by the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center.
The only other conviction on his record was a DUI conviction in April 2013, a petty misdemeanor.
However, court records show Kauhi had been arrested for second-degree robbery and first-degree terroristic threatening in January 1998, when he was 18, and again for terroristic threatening and several weapons charges in September 1998, the month of his 19th birthday.
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