- Associated Press - Saturday, March 26, 2016

HILO, Hawaii (AP) - An ethics complaint against Hawaii County’s mayor will move forward after he was indicted by a grand jury on charges including theft.

The Hawaii County Board of Ethics is set to hear Kapaau resident Lanric Hyland’s complaint on May 10 regarding Billy Kenoi’s use of his government credit card and possible ethics code violations, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported (https://bit.ly/21M5g7k ).

Kenoi spent about $130,000 between January 2009 and March 2015 on county expenses as well as bar tabs and surf boards, among other charges. He has paid back over $31,000.

Board members deferred the petition last year amid an investigation by the state attorney general’s office.

Hyland said he doesn’t think the board will side against Kenoi, though he’s glad the complaint will be heard. “I think they will just shush the whole thing again,” he said, noting that Kenoi’s term ends in December.

Six county councilmembers were in favor of allowing the judicial process to move forward before considering any action against the mayor, like reprimanding him or requesting he resign.

“I’ve always stood on a firm foundation of due process,” Hamakua Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter said. “I don’t believe that I am judge and jury when it comes to the judicial process.”

Councilman Dennis Onishi agreed. “He needs to go through the process. He could be found not guilty,” he said.

Penalties for violating the county ethics code can include suspension or removal from office.

One of Kenoi’s attorneys says the mayor has no plans to resign.

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Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, https://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/

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