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Kenoi pleads not guilty to theft charges

Mayor Billy Kenoi at his arraignment Wednesday, March 30, 2016 in Hilo. Photo special to Hawaii 24/7 by Darryl Lee.

Mayor Billy Kenoi at his arraignment Wednesday, March 30, 2016 in Hilo. He was accompanied by his attorneys Todd Eddins (left) and Richard Sing. (Photo special to Hawaii 24/7 by Darryl Lee)

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

Mayor Billy Kenoi entered a plea of not guilty during his arraignment hearing Wednesday in Circuit Court in Hilo.

Kenoi, represented by attorneys Todd Eddins and Richard Sing, made no statement during the hearing other than to acknowledge his identity.

Eddins told the court Kenoi was pleading, “not guilty to each charge.”

At Kenoi’s request, Judge Greg Nakamura set a jury trial, which is to begin 9 a.m. Monday, July 18. The judge gave Kenoi permission to travel prior to the trial, but he must not be in possession of firearms.

Kenoi, who was accompanied by his wife Takako, declined to comment following the hearing.

The state was represented by Kevin Takata, who also declined to comment following the hearing.

Last week, a grand jury indicted Kenoi, 47, on eight criminal charges, including two felony theft charges relating to alleged misuse of his county purchasing card between 2011 and 2015.

The charges are:

* Counts 1 and 2: Theft in the Second Degree, Class C felonies each punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

* Counts 3 and 4: Theft in the Third Degree, misdemeanors each punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

* Counts 5, 6 and 7: Tampering with a Government Record, misdemeanors each punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

* Count 8: False Swearing, a petty misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Eddins spoke to reporters outside of court after the proceedings.

“The County of Hawaii is not out one penny. Mayor Kenoi has not enriched himself one penny. Mayor Kenoi has not committed a crime,” Eddins said.

“It’s an overreach to call him a thief,” he said. “Mayor Kenoi is going to fight these flimsy allegations all the way. He knows he didn’t do anything wrong.”

Eddins said Kenoi was “feeling good. He’s going to go about doing what he’s always done, (which) is working tirelessly for this county.”

Eddins declined to comment further on the case, but said the defense team would begin reviewing the grand jury indictment and evidence against the mayor.

In addition, Eddins said there has been “no negotiation for a plea deal,” despite published reports.

Kenoi turned himself in 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Pahoa police station, was processed and released.

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