Preston Kimoto is the seventh of Mike Miske’s original 10 co-defendants to plead guilty and flip on their former boss.

Former Honolulu business owner Michael J. Miske Jr., who federal prosecutors allege was the leader of a racketeering organization in Hawaii for two decades, authorized the kidnapping of a Honolulu accountant in an unsuccessful attempt to collect $900,000 owed to a local business owner and investor.

That’s according to Preston Kimoto, 44, a longtime manager for Miske’s Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control, who pleaded guilty Monday to conspiring with Miske and others to carry out the 2017 kidnapping.

In addition to his position with Kamaaina Termite, Kimoto worked for Oahu Termite, which Miske later took over from its former owners. Kimoto was also licensed as a used car salesman with Miske’s Hawaii Partners LLC, and regularly accompanied Miske to Honolulu auto auctions to purchase beat-up old cars for the company.

Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control building with obscured signs at 940 Queen street.
Preston Kimoto was the longtime manager for Michael Miske’s Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control company, which federal prosecutors say was the headquarters for Miske’s criminal enterprise. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020)

Kimoto told U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson that he had been approached in May 2017 by his friend’s daughter, who asked for if he knew anyone who could help her father collect the debt.

“I then asked Mike (Miske) if he could talk to them,” Kimoto told the judge. “Mike said yes.”

Miske later asked for and received a 10% fee from Kimoto’s friend, approximately $90,000 in cash, even though the kidnapping did not succeed in collecting the debt, Kimoto said during the hearing in Honolulu’s Federal District Court.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson presided over the hearing.

According to the terms of a plea agreement signed on July 18 and submitted for court approval at Monday’s hearing, Kimoto admitted to conspiring with Miske and another man, Wayne Miller, to arrange the kidnapping.

He said the three of them met several times to plan the kidnapping, and even met while the kidnapping was underway to decide what to do when the victim insisted he didn’t have the money to pay even after being assaulted for hours.

Kimoto also agreed to “cooperate fully” with prosecutors, and “testify truthfully at any and all trials, hearings, or any other proceedings at which the prosecution requests him to testify.”

The charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, although federal sentencing guidelines would almost certainly call for a lesser penalty in Kimoto’s case because he has no criminal record and has not been accused of personally committing any violent acts.

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In exchange for Kimoto’s plea, prosecutors agreed to drop two additional charges — participating in a racketeering conspiracy, and conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine and other controlled substances. The latter charge would have carried a mandatory 10-year minimum sentence on conviction. 

Prosecutors also agreed not to bring charges related to Kimoto’s arrest in April for allegedly threatening the woman who had asked for his help in collecting the money owed to her father.

Kimoto warned the woman not to talk to FBI investigators, reminding her that Kimoto knew where she lived, worked and where her children went to school, according to an affidavit filed in federal court by FBI Special Agent Thomas J. Palmer at the time of his April arrest.

Although Kimoto was not charged in that case, the evidence regarding his threats clearly gave prosecutors the additional leverage needed to obtain his guilty plea and his testimony implicating Miske, who is also charged in the kidnapping.

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)

How It Started

The debt stemmed from the woman’s father’s investment in a local company manufacturing steel building materials that had filed for bankruptcy in 2013, when it listed over $2.1 million in debt and total assets of just $58,750.

The company was headed by a 72-year-old accountant, referred to in court files by his initials S.L. Both S.L. and the woman’s father were listed as unsecured creditors in the bankruptcy filing.

The woman “asked Kimoto if he knew anyone who could help collect the debt,” according to the written plea agreement. “Kimoto advised (her) that he had a friend who might be able to collect the debt.”

Kimoto then spoke to Miske and asked if he could “talk to the guy,” and Miske said “yes.”

Then, over several weeks, Kimoto said he confirmed the identity of the accountant, his phone number, residence and business addresses, type of car, “and a specific Ward Avenue restaurant he frequented.” Kimoto said he had followed the man to the restaurant in order to take photo with his phone, which he then showed to Miske.

Kimoto left the information on Miske’s desk at the Kamaaina Termite office, “and later confirmed that Miske received the note.”

Miske then “offered the ‘collection’” to Miller, who began following the intended victim to establish his daily patterns of activity.

Other Plea Deals

On Oct. 17, 2017, Miller and another man, Jonah Ortiz, arranged to meet with the accountant at Fisherman’s Wharf at Kewalo Basin, where they tied his hands, placed a bag over his head, then detained and beat him over the course of several hours, “causing significant injuries which later required treatment at a local hospital.”

Both Miller and Ortiz have pleaded guilty and cooperated with prosecutors. Miller is considered a key witness in the case, due to his position in Miske’s organization and his longtime personal ties with Miske going back to the 1990s.

Miller is currently being held in an undisclosed location for his own safety, and all information about his whereabouts has been scrubbed from the Bureau of Prison’s online inmate locator.

While S.L was still being held, Miller drove to the Kamaaina Termite office on Queen Street, where he met with Miske and Kimoto in Miske’s office, according to the plea agreement.

Miller told them the victim “insisted he had no money” and they then discussed what should be done next. Kimoto then called the woman, who spoke with her father, then agreed they should let the accountant go.  

A few days later, Kimoto met again with Miske and Miller at Kewalo Basin. As Kimoto and Miske were driving back from the meeting, “Miske told Kimoto to ask his friend to pay 10% of the total amount owed.” That amount, approximately $90,000, was paid in several installments over approximately the next six months.

Kimoto said the woman made these payments in cash, which he then delivered to Miske at his Kamaaina Termite office, where Kimoto would leave it in “a secure place,” according to the plea agreement.

In response to a question, Miller told Watson the payments had been made although the debt collection had been unsuccessful.

Miller said he was not paid for organizing and carrying out the kidnapping. On the following day, he contacted Kimoto about getting paid, documents show.

That was apparently unsuccessful, and Miske later accused Miller of sending someone to a store at Ala Moana Center owned by the woman’s father and attempting to obtain some payment directly from him.

‘Do Me A Favor’

Miske then sent a text message to Miller’s girlfriend, a copy of which was forwarded to Miller and later retrieved by the FBI.

The message read: “Do me a favor. Tell dummy the next time he sends someone to the golf shop to shake somebody up and it comes back to me like I did it. I’m gonna give them his PO’s (probation officer’s) number instead and they can run to him instead of putting me in deeper shit.”

Miller acknowledged he was the “dummy” that Miske was referring to, although he denied ever visiting the store.

Kimoto is the seventh of Miske’s original 10 co-defendants to plead guilty and flip on Miske and other former associates. At least 10 other defendants linked to the Miske organization, but charged separately, have also pleaded guilty, including Miller; Jacob “Jake” Smith, who was paid to assault victims when directed by Miske; Tricia Castro, Miske’s accountant; and Ashlin Akau, who participated with Smith in two chemical attacks on nightclubs that competed with one owned by Miske.

The trial of Miske and the remaining co-defendants is currently scheduled to begin in January, but a request for an additional four-month delay is pending.

Kimoto’s sentencing was scheduled for August 2024.

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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.