Preston Kimoto had been on pretrial release but was arrested by federal agents on Tuesday.

A co-defendant in the federal racketeering case against former Honolulu business owner and alleged racketeering kingpin, Michael J. Miske Jr., is back behind bars after being arrested for threatening and attempting to intimidate a witness to prevent her from providing information to FBI investigators.

Preston Kimoto, 44, a former manager for two Miske-owned companies, Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control and Oahu Termite and Pest Management, was arrested by federal agents on Tuesday, court records show. Witness tampering carries a possible sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment.

During an eight-minute Wednesday morning hearing before Magistrate Judge Kenneth Mansfield, Kimoto acknowledged his arrest and “conceded to detention … subject to reconsideration at a later date.” Mansfield then revoked Kimoto’s pretrial release and ordered him returned to federal custody.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 10:30 am on April 19.

Kimoto had been free on bond pending trial since shortly after his indictment and arrest in July 2020. He was released on a $50,000 bond secured by a $5,000 cash deposit, subject to home detention with location monitoring. In November 2021, home detention was replaced with a a less restrictive curfew.

Two Meetings In December

Kimoto is the first of the Miske defendants to land back behind bars after violating the terms of his release that, among other things, prohibited committing “any offense in violation of federal, state, or local law while on release in this case.”

According to an FBI agent’s affidavit filed along with the criminal complaint, Kimoto held two meetings in December with a witness who he believed was, along with the witness’ relatives, the only people who could tie him to one of the offenses with which he was charged.

During the first meeting, on Dec. 16, “Kimoto told Victim-A that the FBI would likely be approaching Victim-A and that it would be better for Victim-A and his/her relatives if he/she told the FBI nothing.”

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He then reminded Victim-A “that he knew where Victim-A lived, worked and where Victim-A’s children went to school.”

During a second meeting on Dec. 28, “Kimoto reiterated to Victim-A that he/she should not talk to law enforcement and then Victim-A would not have to worry about anyone coming to Victim-A’s home or the school Victim-A’s children attended.”

Federal investigators did not learn of these meetings until they were admitted by Victim-A during an interview on March 20. Prior to this time, Victim-A said she was fearful the safety of herself and her family “based on Kimoto’s threats and his history of violence.”

Over the course of the next two weeks, investigators were able to download the contents of Witness-A’s phone, including text messages exchanged with Kimoto, contacts that included his name and contact information, and photographs, including one that placed Kimoto at the second meeting.

Investigators also served a subpoena on the restaurant where the Dec. 16 meeting had taken place, and were able to obtain a receipt showing Kimoto’s credit card had been used to pay for the meal, as described by Witness-A.

The federal racketeering indictment against Miske and co-defendants charges Kimoto with participating in a racketeering conspiracy that Miske allegedly controlled and directed, and a drug trafficking conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine, oxycodone and marijuana.

Mike Miske has been accused of numerous crimes, including murder. (FBI/2020)

Kidnapping Plot

Witness-A appears to be related to a third charge against Kimoto, who is alleged to have conspired with Miske and others to carry out the Oct. 17, 2017, kidnapping of a 72-year-old accountant who has been identified in court files only by the initials S.L.

The kidnapping was carried out by two members of the Miske Enterprise, Wayne Miller and Jonah Ortiz, allegedly on Miske’s orders. Both Miller and Ortiz have pleaded guilty and admitted to taking part in the kidnapping. Ortiz is serving a lengthy sentence in a federal prison in Louisiana. Miller is being held in an undisclosed location pending trial in the Miske case, where he is expected to be a key prosecution witness.

Miller admitted to arranging the kidnapping of S.L. “on Miske’s behalf,” court records show.  In a phone call to  the accountant, someone using the name “James” said he needed help with “business and personal tax matters.” They agreed to meet near the old Fisherman’s Wharf at Kewalo boat harbor. Ortiz told investigators Miller was armed when they met with the accountant.

When S.L. arrived, Miller and Ortiz identified themselves as police officers, displayed gold-colored badges and tried to handcuff him. A struggled ensued, and S.L. “was punched and kicked multiple times and was forced into the back” of an older model black Ford Crown Victoria sedan.

S.L.’s hands were handcuffed behind his back and a thick bag was placed over his head, court records show.

Miller and Ortiz then drove around for what might have been hours, threatening to kill the accountant if he didn’t give them money.

At some point, Miller needed additional direction regarding what to do with S.L., and they drove to the Queen Street offices that served as headquarters for Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control and other Miske-owned businesses where they met with Kimoto.

According to prior court filings, this meeting was picked up by electronic surveillance in place at the time. 

Surveillance footage shows what appears to be Miller arriving at Kamaaina Termite while the kidnapping was in progress, followed by Kimoto shortly afterward, according to court files. Then Kimoto and Miller left the building within five minutes of each other, followed soon afterward by Miske walking out of the office.

Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control building with obscured signs at 940 Queen street.
Federal prosecutors say Michael Miske used Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control as the headquarters for his criminal enterprise. The headquarters were allegedly used in a kidnapping attempt involving a 72-year-old accountant. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020)

In addition, federal investigators were later able to retrieve text messages exchanged between Miller and Kimoto on the day of the kidnapping, as well as phone records showing Kimoto and Miller “were in touch during the kidnapping.”

S.L. eventually turned over a Visa check card, and he was released back at Fisherman’s Wharf.

Motives Revealed

Neither the indictment, nor the plea agreements of Ortiz and Miller, provide further information about the motives behind the kidnapping.

However, additional details were made public when an unredacted copy of an FBI report was mistakenly filed in court as an exhibit by John Schum, who was then representing defendant Delia Fabro-Miske.

The FBI Form 302 report was publicly available for a brief time before being replaced by a redacted version. During that short window, the document made public details of a 2019 interview with Miller.

The unredacted version was filed in court on Dec. 27, one day before Kimoto met with Victim-A and attempted to show her a court document that mentioned her and her family. It seems likely this document was the same Form 302 filed in court. It isn’t clear how Kimoto had obtained a copy.

According to the unredacted document, Miller told investigators that a Honolulu businessman and investor solicited Miske and his group to kidnap and attempt to extort the accountant, S.L. 

The kidnapping was apparently the result of a financial dispute stemming from the bankruptcy of a company headed by S.L., which resulted in the businessman losing several hundred thousand dollars he had loaned to the company, and which was not recovered in the bankruptcy.

When S.L.’s company filed for bankruptcy in 2013, it listed over $2.1 million in debt, with total assets of just $58,750.

According to Miller, Kimoto had known the businessman/investor and his daughter for about 10 years at the time of the kidnapping. It was apparently through that family connection that Kimoto was asked to bring the kidnapping request to Miske’s attention.

Miller was reportedly upset that he was not paid for taking part in the kidnapping. The next day, Miller went to Kimoto seeking payment and allegedly later went to one of the businessman’s stores and unsuccessfully tried to intimidate him into paying.

News of the confrontation got back to Miske, who later told Miller’s girlfriend that the next time Miller went “to shake somebody up and it comes back to me like I did it, I’m gonna give them his PO’s (parole officer) number instead and they can run to him instead of putting me in deeper shit.”

Following the revocation of Kimoto’s pretrial release, prosecutors are expected to file a motion asking that his bond be forfeited. It isn’t clear whether this would only be his $5,000 cash deposit, or the full $50,000 value of the unsecured bond.

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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.