A Hawaii Kai home owned by alleged racketeering kingpin Michael J. Miske Jr., was listed for sale on Dec. 10 and is now in escrow, real estate records show.
The 2,448-square-foot home at 559 Kumukahi Place, in Hawaii Kai’s Spinnaker Isle neighborhood, features four bedrooms and three baths on an 8,401-square-foot marina-front lot with its own boat dock. It was listed for sale for $1,650,000, which is $183,500 above its 2022 tax appraised value, according to city property tax records.
According to the real estate listing, unspecified renovations on the home remain unfinished.
“Buyer must take property as is with no exceptions,” the listing noted.
Honolulu building permit records show that just days before Miske’s July 2020 arrest, the property was cited for “alteration work being done without a permit,” and for work being done “early in the morning and late at night.”
A building permit application was filed on Sept. 14 for unspecified work on the home estimated to cost $50,000. The permit application lists Miske himself as the applicant, owner and contractor. City records indicate the permit was never approved. At the time of the application, Miske had been confined in Honolulu’s Federal Detention Center for 14 months.
The property has been encumbered by the federal government’s intent to seek its forfeiture if Miske is convicted on the charge of racketeering conspiracy because it is alleged to have been purchased with “proceeds obtained directly or indirectly from racketeering activity.”
A “Notice of Pendency of Action” alerting interested parties of the government’s forfeiture claim was filed with the Bureau of Conveyances and linked to the property deed at the time of Miske’s indictment and arrest.
Miske and 10 co-defendants were named in a 22-count federal indictment in July 2020. They are accused of participating in or being associated with a racketeering conspiracy that was involved in a wide range of criminal acts, including conspiracy to violate racketeering laws, murder-for-hire, kidnapping, assault, armed robbery, weapons-related offenses, drug trafficking and bank fraud.
Miske and the remaining nine co-defendants are scheduled to face trial in September.
Miske purchased the Kumukahi Place home at a foreclosure auction for $1.4 million, real estate records show, following a foreclosure proceeding that stretched for several years. The sale was recorded on Dec. 31, 2019, just six months before his arrest.
According to the report the foreclosure commissioner filed in state court, the successful bidder, Kaulana Freitas, later disclosed he had placed the bid on behalf of Miske, who then took his place as purchaser of the property.
The purchase was financed in part with a $1,050,000, 30-year mortgage loan from Home Point Financial Corp., a New Jersey-based lender.
It is unclear how Miske was able to obtain the loan, which was made two and a half years after he knew he was under federal criminal investigation for the murder of Jonathan Fraser, his son’s best friend.
Fraser and Miske’s son, Caleb, were both critically injured in a November 2015 automobile accident in Kaneohe. Fraser survived, but Caleb succumbed to his injuries several months later. Prosecutors have alleged Miske blamed Fraser for Caleb’s death, then paid to have him kidnapped and killed.
Local financial institutions had started backing away from Miske and his companies by October 2016 as the federal investigation into Fraser’s death gained steam, court records show. In the summer of 2017, Miske hired a pair of top flight criminal defense attorneys in preparation for possible criminal charges.
An FBI search warrant targeting Miske’s Boston Whaler, “Painkiller,” in August 2017 put Miske and his legal team on notice that “(1) he was the target of an FBI investigation into an alleged murder-for-hire which could be charged against him as a capital offense … and (2) the FBI had made an ex parte submission to a United States Magistrate Judge which resulted in a finding of probable cause against Miske,” according to a memo his legal team later filed in court.
The standard mortgage loan application form asks whether the borrower is “a party to a lawsuit in which you potentially have any personal financial liability,” but apparently does not directly ask about other factors, including expected criminal charges, that could affect a borrower’s credit rating as well as the lender’s loan decision.
Nothing in the public record indicates whether the active criminal investigation was disclosed to Home Point Financial.
Richard S. Cricchio, the real estate agent who listed the property for sale, said in a telephone interview on Saturday that he was approached just last month by Miske’s attorneys to arrange the sale.
“I’m new to this, it just came into my lap a few weeks ago,” Cricchio said. “You probably know more than I do.”
Cricchio said he was told government attorneys have given a green light to the sale.
Cricchio said he doubted Miske would receive any of the proceeds.
“I’m not privy to any of the details,” he said, but added, “I assume they (the government) will hold it, right?”
$1.65 Million Price Tag
So far, the property listing or proposed sale are not reflected in the federal court docket of the Miske case.
However, the sale is likely similar to last year’s sale of the 90-foot longline fishing vessel “Rachel,” owned by Kamaaina Holdings LLC, which also was controlled by Miske. In that case, the sale was arranged in behind-the-scenes discussions between Miske’s attorneys and federal prosecutors, and only entered into the public court record when court approval was sought and granted for the final sale.
Proceeds from the sale of the vessel, which also had been targeted for forfeiture, were not paid to Miske. They were instead deposited to and retained in the Department of Justice Seized Asset Deposit Fund after the sale was completed, and the funds will escheat to the federal government if Miske is convicted.
The Rachel sale was approved after Miske and the government agreed that the vessel’s value was likely to diminish over time due to “deterioration inherent in its non-use” and the ongoing costs of maintenance and other expenses.
Similar considerations would apply to the Hawaii Kai house, which is subject to payments on the outstanding mortgage, as well as property taxes and maintenance costs. Allowing a sale at this point will preserve the value of the government’s interest in the property and reduce the ongoing drain on Miske’s personal resources.
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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.