It will be at least another year before suspected Hawaii Kai crime boss Michael Miske and his 10 co-defendants stand trial for a series of crimes ranging from racketerring and drug trafficking to the use of chemical weapons and murder for hire.

On Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth Mansfield ruled that the case was “so unusual and complex” that delaying the trial until September 2021 was in the best interest of everyone involved, including Miske and his alleged cohorts, so that they could adequately prepare their defense.

Michael Miske is a former nightclub owner and local businessman accused of running a violent criminal enterprise in Hawaii. Hawaii News Now/2020

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Hawaii had previously asked Mansfield to postpone the trial due to the complexity of the case.

Federal prosecutors argued in court papers that the investigation into Miske and his alleged criminal enterprise involved a massive investigation involving numerous agencies, including the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, IRS and Environmental Protection Agency.

They also pointed out that they built the case over the course of many months using wiretaps, search warrants and physical surveillance of drug deals. The evidence against Miske and his 10 co-defendants, they say, is “voluminous” and spans nearly two decades of conduct.

In addition, Miske faces a series of charges related to the kidnapping and murder of Jonathan Fraser that could result in the death penalty.

Fraser was involved in a car accident in 2015 with Miske’s son, Caleb-Jordan Miske-Lee, who eventually died as a result of his injuries. Fraser disappeared in 2016 in what prosecutors describe as an elaborate murder-for-hire scheme that was orchestrated by Miske and carried out by his cohorts.

Miske’s defense team agreed that the case should be delayed, noting in court records submitted to the court by prosecutors, that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic only complicates matters more. The defense will also need time to develop its argument as to why Miske should not be eligible for the death penalty.

Help power our public service journalism

As a local newsroom, Civil Beat has a unique public service role in times of crisis.

That’s why we’re committed to a paywall-free website and subscription-free content, so we can get vital information out to everyone, from all communities.

We are deploying a significant amount of our resources to covering the Maui fires, and your support ensures that we can pivot when these types of emergencies arise.

Make a gift to Civil Beat today and help power our nonprofit newsroom.

About the Author