2 high-profile attorneys for alleged crime boss Mike Miske could be disqualified from murder case

No date has been set for a decision.
Published: Jan. 13, 2023 at 5:31 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 13, 2023 at 6:17 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A high-profile attorney representing alleged crime boss Mike Miske has asked to withdraw from the case that accuses the Honolulu businessman of murder, kidnapping, racketeering and other crimes.

In a filing Friday morning, Tommy Otake referred to a superseding indictment filed last month that added two counts of obstruction. Otake said the government is accusing him and co-counsel Lynn Panagakos of “unknowingly” submitting two “fraudulent character letters” to the court on behalf of Miske after his arrest in July 2020, in an effort to get pretrial release.

Otake said he will withdraw but wants Panagakos to remain on the case.

Attorney Tommy Otake
Attorney Tommy Otake (Tommy Otake)

Hours after Otake’s court document dropped, the government filed their own motion to have both Otake and Panagakos disqualified. One of the character letters in question appears to be authored by Kurt Nosal and describes Miske as displaying “a high level of integrity” and called him “dependable, honest, and generous.”

The government’s motion said Nosal insists, he did not write the letter and that it came from Miske.

Another letter had the name Larry Kapu and said Miske hired him as a termite inspector.

That letter called Miske, the owner of a pest control company, “a great leader.”

The government said that document was altered and since the attorneys filed them with the court, they are witnesses to the obstruction.

The judge ultimately denied Miske’s request for bond and Miske has been held at the Federal Detention Center.

Retired federal public defender Alexander Silvert said character letters are often used ahead of bond hearings. He has filed many with the court and said trying to verify the authors can sometimes be difficult.


“You do the best you can,” said Silvert.

Otake said the government notified him Thursday that there was another issue. Otake described it as an “unresolvable conflict of interest” that he is involved in. Otake did not disclose details of that second issue but said it is the reason he was voluntarily withdrawing.

Hawaii News Now reached out to Otake, who said he could not comment on any of the filings.

There is a third attorney for Miske, Michael Kennedy, who joined the case last November.

The government said they did not have any concerns regarding Kennedy taking over.

No date has been set on when the judge will decide who will represent Miske in the trial, currently set for April 17.