HILO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - A judge has denied Hawaii Mayor Billy Kenoi's motions aimed at getting the theft case against him thrown out.
Kenoi was indicted in March on two counts of second-degree felony theft, two counts of misdemeanor theft, three counts of tampering with government records and one count of false swearing over his alleged misuse of a county purchasing credit card.
On Friday, his lawyers sought to get the case dismissed. They argued, in part, that media leaks had tainted the case, that Kenoi's due process had been violated, and that there was an impartial grand jury.
The judge denied the motions seeking dismissal Friday, which means the case against Kenoi will proceed.
Kenoi has admitted to making tens of thousands of dollars of unauthorized purchases on his government purchasing card.
Among the unauthorized purchases: Kenoi's used his pCard to pay for a $900 night at the Club Evergreen hostess bar back in 2013, and a $400 outing at the Camelot Restaurant and Lounge in 2009.
County purchasing credit cards are given to government workers to pay for supplies and work-related small purchases, and their use is supposed to be strictly monitored.
Kenoi has said he always planned to pay back the money he spent on personal purchases, but prosecutors are expected to argue that he only did so after he was warned or told to return the money.
Kenoi was 39 years old when he took office in 2008, becoming one of Hawaii Island's youngest mayors. He was the former executive assistant to Big Island Mayor Harry Kim, a fixture on the Big Island.
During the first several years of his tenure, Kenoi garnered statewide attention for his down-to-earth style and ability to bring together a diversity of stakeholders to find solutions. He was widely seen as a potential candidate for statewide office.
Kenoi's term runs out at the end of the year.
The last time a Hawaii mayor was indicted was in 1977, when Mayor Frank Fasi faced charges of accepting a $500,000 bribe from a developer. The charges were subsequently dropped.