Recently filed court records give a glimpse into the federal investigation of Mike Miske and his associates. But the picture is still far from complete.

An FBI investigator whose gmail account and residence were searched by his own agency in 2019 and 2020 as part of a criminal investigation linked to the case of accused racketeering boss Michael J. Miske Jr. was part of a team of FBI surveillance specialists charged with keeping tabs on Miske and several associates, according to documents filed in court last week.

The documents, which include eight surveillance-related records containing a total of just 47 pages, became public when they were were attached as exhibits to a motion filed in Honolulu’s federal court on Friday by attorneys representing John Stancil, Miske’s half-brother and one of his six remaining co-defendants.

These documents are the first to publicly confirm that teams of federal agents were assigned to conduct active, on-the-ground, physical surveillance of Miske and others over a period of years. Although not necessarily continuous, the surveillance at times was authorized during day, evening and overnight shifts, the documents show.

The surveillance-related documents also show the investigator who later became the target of two search warrants was a member, and sometimes a designated leader, of an elite team from the FBI’s Special Surveillance Group, or SSG,  assigned to shadow Miske, Stancil, and others during an early stage of the investigation.

A Wikipedia entry describes the Special Surveillance Group of “investigative specialists” within the FBI “that specialize in clandestine vehicular and foot surveillance.”  

While this limited batch of documents provides evidence of the FBI’s use of physical surveillance of the Miske organization, they shed no light on its overall extent in this case, the number of individuals that were monitored, the situations in which surveillance was conducted, or the time period during which active physical surveillance was undertaken. 

Documents filed in the federal racketeering case involving Honolulu business owner Mike Miske lay out details of the FBI’s surveillance of Miske and his associates. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2015)

Most of those later indicted along with Miske, or indicted separately for crimes related to the Miske case, do not appear in these documents, either because they became central to the case in a later phase, or because these particular documents represent only a very small fraction of surveillance records maintained by the FBI.

Nor does the small batch of documents provide any hints of what might have triggered the FBI’s searches of the agent’s gmail account and residence less than two years later, turning the investigator into one of those under investigation. 

An Ongoing Criminal Investigation

The investigator, who left the FBI in 2021, has no criminal record, and no charges have been filed against him in the four years since the first search warrant was issued and executed.

For that reason, Civil Beat is not using the name of the investigator, who is identified here only by his initials, J.K.

However, federal prosecutors recently reported their criminal investigation is still ongoing, although it has not been disclosed whether J.K. is himself the subject of the criminal probe.

“The government requests that those cases remain sealed because the matters described in those cases remain in a pre-indictment stage, and because the investigations into those matters are still ongoing,” prosecutors said in the June 2 report filed in court. 

U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson has yet to rule on the request, but it will almost certainly be granted.

The search warrants targeting J.K. remained sealed following a case-by-case review last year after prosecutors disclosed the ongoing investigation. These were the only two search warrant cases to remain secret in their entirety, out of the 70 warrants that were reviewed in response to a legal challenge to their continued secrecy by the Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest.

Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control trailer. Founder Michael Miske near 940 Queen street.
Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control on Queen Street is at the heart of the criminal enterprise, prosecutors say. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020)

Miske, who was best known as the owner and operator of Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control Inc., and the popular M Nightclub in downtown Honolulu, was arrested in a predawn raid at his Kailua residence in July 2020.

A 22-count federal grand jury indictment charged Miske and 10 original co-defendants with being part of or associated with a racketeering enterprise which he controlled and directed. Miske is named in 19 counts of the latest updated indictment, including five charges stemming from his alleged role in directing the kidnapping and murder of 21-year-old Jonathan Fraser in 2016. 

Two of those charges — murder in aid of racketeering and murder-for-hire conspiracy resulting in death — carry a minimum sentence of life in prison if he is convicted, and two others have a maximum sentence of life in prison. The U.S. Department of Justice announced earlier in the case that it would not seek the death penalty.

Other charges against Miske and associates include murder-for-hire conspiracy, kidnapping, assault in aid of racketeering, drug trafficking, armed robbery, use of a chemical weapon, firearms offenses, and bank fraud. A pair of superseding indictments added two more defendants to the case, along with two additional charges of obstruction of justice against Miske for allegedly directing the creation of fraudulent letters of reference that were submitted to the court in an attempt to gain his release on bond.

To date, prosecutors have succeeded in obtaining guilty pleas from six of Miske’s 12 co-defendants, along with at least seven others who were charged separately, including two of Miske’s closest associates and his longtime personal and business accountant.

Spotting The Sealed Warrants

The  existence of the two otherwise secret warrants came to light after case numbers assigned to the cases were included in an index to the 70 search warrants issued between 2015 and 2020. The index contained brief one-line entries, but identified J.K. as the subject of the warrants authorizing searches of his gmail account and residence. Cross checking his name led to J.K.’s own profile on, which listed his past employment as an investigative specialist for the FBI for 10 years beginning in August 2011. 

Jonathan Fraser disappeared in 2018. Federal prosecutors say Miske arranged for his killing (FBI photo)

The substance of the investigation involving J.K. remains unknown. However, it appears to account for the unusual involvement of the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General in the Miske investigation, which had been previously disclosed. 

The Inspector General only has authority to enter cases in which there is suspected criminal activity by a DOJ employee, contractor, or grantee. And, to obtain the search warrants, it would have been necessary to show a magistrate judge that there was probable cause to believe the searches would yield evidence of a crime.

Part Of The Team

The full investigation that included the physical surveillance began on March 2, 2014, according to an entry in one of the FBI surveillance logs, although the first document disclosed by Stancil’s attorneys, a request to conduct physical surveillance, was not filed until two years later. 

Several types of electronic surveillance of Miske and his companies have previously been publicly disclosed, including audio recording of conversations in and around the Kamaaina Termite office, use of a pen register (or dialed number recorder) to track calls going in and out of Miske’s office or made from certain cell phones, court-approved wire taps which allowed investigators to listen to and record phone calls, as well as years of automated video recordings by cameras mounted on utility poles outside the Kamaaina office.

But the recently disclosed surveillance requests and logs are the first indication of extensive, coordinated physical surveillance by teams of trained specialists.

The bulk of the recently disclosed documents involve surreptitious surveillance for a period beginning in March 2016 and continuing through the end of 2017. Two later records involve “spot checks” on Stancil’s location, one in 2019 at his family home in Waimanalo, and a second in 2020 at a building where Stancil’s girlfriend, and the mother of his young child, was living.

The first “Physical Surveillance Request” included in these files authorized a mobile surveillance team to continue ongoing surveillance of Miske, Stancil and several others, including Jason Yokoyama, his business partner in the M Nightclub and other ventures; Josiah Akau, a Miske relative who was registered as the responsible managing employee of Kamaaina Plumbing, owned by Miske; and one other person with a history of federal drug charges, as well as a state charge of unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle.

John Stancil is Mike Miske’s half brother and also a co-defendant in the federal racketeering case. (Hawaii News Now photo)

Preston Kimoto, a manager at Kamaaina Termite, and Roger Allen Lau, a journeyman plumber for Kamaaina Plumbing who was Miske’s mother’s brother, were added later to the target list of those under active surveillance. 

Kimoto was a manager for Miske’s Kamaaina Termite, and also held a used car salesman license with another of MIske’s companies, Hawaii Partners LLC, which was a licensed used car dealer. Lau, a licensed plumber, was reportedly working for Kamaaina Plumbing, and also doing work at Pearl Harbor.

One application advised those following Stancil to pay attention to his associates, especially Jacob “Jake” Smith, a trained martial artist who has admitted being paid to provide “muscle” and to threaten or assault others at Miske’s direction.

None of those being monitored were considered to be “armed/dangerous,” although most were described as “surveillance conscious.” Miske, for example, changed vehicles frequently, and maintained several residences, making surveillance more difficult.

The documents show the surveillance was renewed several times, at least through the end of 2017. 

Several of those targeted by this early surveillance were subsequently charged, including Miske, Stancil, Yokoyama, Kimoto, and Smith. 

Tracing Contacts And Connections

The objectives of the surveillance in each case were similar, including determining daily patterns of life, identifying work locations and known associates, and obtaining photographs of residences and vehicles. At this stage at least, it appears to have involved rather boring but essential investigative work.

For example, J.K., was part of a five-member surveillance team that monitored Miske for much of the day on March 12, 2017. It was the one-year anniversary of the death of Caleb Miske, Mike Miske’s only son, and a gathering was held under tents at the beach park across from the former location of Outback Steakhouse in Hawaii Kai.

Surveillance began at 7:20 a.m. at two locations, a Hawaii Kai home, and his residence on Kuuna Street in Kailua, and continued until 3:45 p.m.

Members of the surveillance team followed Miske and stuck with him during a mid-day shopping trip to Costco, even sending a member of the team into the store, where she observed him purchasing a variety of meats and flower arrangements before returning to the beach park. He was later seen wearing a lei and mixing with friends and family. 

The surveillance team recorded the make and license number of all the vehicles seen parked near the party, and took precise notes on when others under surveillance, including Stancil and Kimoto, temporarily left the party.

J.K. was later identified as assistant coordinator for a six-member team which monitored Allen Lau beginning at 6:35 a.m. on July 19, 2017. The team recorded the descriptions and license plates of vehicles seen at his home on Inoaole Street in Waimanalo, and the nearby Stancil residence, as well as observing all visitors to either location. 

John Stancil’s was seen being dropped off at his mother’s home at 12:45 by an unidentified male. His license plates, like others, were carefully recorded in the log.

After seven hours of recording the comings and goings at the two homes, the surveillance was discontinued for the day. 

At least on this day, the results were meager indeed. 

The day’s surveillance log, which was drafted by J.K., reported that Lau, the main target for the day, had not been seen at any point during the day.

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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.