Hawai‘i Island Mayor Billy Kenoi testified in his own defense Wednesday. The criminal trial against the Big Island mayor for the alleged misuse of his government issued purchasing card entered its fifth day. Kenoi took the stand, appearing emotional, as he recounted his family and upbringing in Kalapana.
“My parents just taught me simple values. Me and my sisters were taught to be respectful, to treat everyone with aloha, and to look out for people less fortunate than yourself,” said Kenoi. “My mom and dad didn’t have much education, my dad only went to 8th grade. And so it was very important, education. We were all committed to working really hard as kids growing up in Hawai‘i.”
When asked by the defense whether it was his intent to permanently deprive the County of Hawai‘i of its property, Kenoi answered “never, I would never do anything to hurt this island, this county. I’m offended of even being accused.”
Kenoi faces five criminal charges, including four counts of theft and one count of making a false statement under oath. Prosecutors allege the Mayor used his pCard for personal purchases, with many that included alcohol, and had no intention of paying the county back.
The defense argues that Kenoi bought alcohol to build relationships and has since reimbursed the county for his personal purchases.
The jury will reconvene next week with closing arguments scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday morning.