- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 25, 2016

HILO, Hawaii (AP) - A judge has denied a request from Hawaii County’s mayor to have his criminal case dismissed, but the judge did agree to toss out three charges for tampering with government records.

Mayor Bill Kenoi now only faces four counts of theft and one count of making a false statement under oath. Judge Dexter Del Rosario cited insufficient evidence in his decision to drop the other charges Monday.

Kenoi is on trial for the alleged misuse of a government-issued credit card from 2011 to 2015.

Prosecutors argue that Kenoi had no intention of paying the county back for alcohol and other unauthorized purchases he made on the card.

The defense has said Kenoi bought alcohol at various events to show his appreciation for people and build relationships. His attorneys say he has reimbursed the county for his personal purchases.

Court proceedings resumed Monday with the state calling a forensic accountant to the stand, who said he discovered Kenoi had been making several payments on a Discover card. James Cigan’s statements came after the state played a recording in which Kenoi could be heard telling reporters during an interview that “I don’t have a credit card, just debit. As long as it’s reimbursed, as long as I didn’t intend to shift burden to (taxpayers), I was under the impression it was OK.”

The defense called three witnesses to the stand, including Kauai County Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.

Carvalho told jurors he and Kenoi were good friends and had attended a mayors’ conference on the mainland together. He described the event as a social gathering where fellow mayors come to connect with one another.

“For me, as mayor, that’s where we have meetings, office meetings, but this is more on a personal level. You can talk about families in that conversation, and then get right into the business part of it. It’s just more developed relationships with your constituents,” he said.

Closing arguments are expected to take place Monday.

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