Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Judge pares down charges against accused Hawaii crime boss

Michael Miske Jr. will still face a majority of the attempted murder and racketeering charges against him, but not those related to the assault of a man he once reportedly tried to hire to kill someone else.

HONOLULU (CN) — A federal judge on Monday acquitted accused Hawaii crime boss Michael Mike Jr. of attempted murder charges related to what prosecutors have argued since his trial started in January is a sprawling criminal enterprise with Miske at its head.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson denied acquittal to Miske for a majority of the various racketeering and conspiracy charges against him, including those stemming from the kidnapping and murder of Jonathan Fraser, whom Miske blamed for the death of his son.

However, on Monday, Watson acquitted Miske of the attempted murder of Lindsey Kinney, along with associated racketeering and firearm charges, writing that “intent cannot be gleaned from any of the evidence in the government’s case-in-chief.”

Kinney — a purported member of a Kaneohe-based motorcycle club rumored to be associated with Miske — told news outlets in 2020 that Miske had attempted in 2017 to hire him to kill Fraser but that he ultimately turned Miske down.

He then said that Miske and others, including Miske's half-brother and former codefendant John Stancil, accosted him while he worked at Kuoloa Ranch in a confrontation that culminated in Kinney being shot at.

The attack on Kinney contributed two charges among the 19 later brought against Miske in 2020. Watson dismissed the attempted murder in aid of racketeering, and carrying and using a firearm in a crime of violence charges Monday.

The government argued that Norman Akau, leader of Kinney’s motorcycle club and another former codefendant, gave Miske the “green light” for the attack, and Miske directed Stancil and another subordinate and former codefendant, Jake Smith, in the shooting.

Watson concluded that the government did not establish any intentional conduct from Miske in Kinney’s shooting.

“The only evidence in the record is that Miske did not want Smith to allow Kinney to get close to him, and Miske asked Smith if he was armed,” Watson wrote. “There is simply no way a rational trier of fact could construe this testimony, along with the other evidence in the record, as shedding any light on the intent necessary for a conviction under Count 8.”

Watson similarly dismissed Miske’s related firearm charge, saying “the government has failed to establish the predicate crime of violence.”

Kinney was himself sentenced to three years in prison in 2023 for posting social media threats to kill a local harbor master and others.

After the dismissal of the Kinney charges and an unrelated drug distribution charge, Miske still faces a remaining 16 charges related to what prosecutors have called the "Miske criminal enterprise," which prosecutors say involved drug smuggling, robbery, fraud and assault among other crimes for nearly two decades under the cover of Miske’s legitimate businesses.

Aside from Kinney's attack and Fraser's reported murder, the businessman, who was arrested in 2020, is also implicated in the illegal fireworks market, the kidnapping and beating of an elderly accountant and the release of tear gas into a rival's nightclub, among other crimes.

Miske, the former owner of Kama’aina Termite Control, has painted himself throughout the trial as a generous businessman who has contributed necessary services to the community. Miske will begin his defense Wednesday as trial continues, entering its sixth month.

Categories / Courts, Criminal, Regional

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.