Can we keep Kenji Price?
Amid the chaos and misinformation, divisive and harmful rhetoric, and ugly self-trading, polarizing President Donald Trump gave us a solid hotshot by appointing a serious hotshot as U.S. attorney for the Hawaii District.
Price took the job in January 2018 – you may recall that it took the Trump administration a long time to appoint US attorneys in several states. In less than two years, he has taken on some of the cruelest crime and crime figures in Hawaii, sometimes assisting or possibly taking over the local police departments.
Let’s count the ways:
While Kirk Caldwell’s supervisors shivered in their boots and leaned back to give Mike Miske a special permit to inspect part of a public beach park to light a tree as a memorial, Price’s team wasn’t afraid get her . Federal investigators methodically built a case that, along with 10 of his staff, resulted in Miskes’s arrest and 22 criminal charges, including murder, kidnapping, drug trafficking, bank fraud, chemical weapon use and Robbery.
“These allegations are a blow to organized crime in Hawaii,” Price said at a press conference. “Nobody is above the law.”
Do you hear that, you trembling city bureaucrats? Kenji Price went and saved your bum.
When Kauai City Councilor Arthur Brun was involved in a chaotic traffic obstruction that resulted in a car chase that resulted in drugs being thrown from the car and a Kauai police officer injured, Price stepped forward to take the case and To bring charges against the federal government. Price and his crew lifted all of the chaos off the island, organized it, and put it on a path to decision. Price called Brun the leader of a major drug trafficking conspiracy and locked him up until the trial.
In this case, there was the infamous Orlando Manguchei, Kauai’s version of Jesse James who has long escaped prison, a long list of girlfriends willing to help him, and a strange connection to an animal theft from dogs Protection that no one on Kauai wanted to talk about.
In September, Price stood with his team to bring charges against a Honolulu defense contractor, Martin Kao of the Martin Defense Group, who allegedly received $ 12.8 million in coronavirus supplies that his company was not entitled to would have. “If you play the system to get the money the Hawaii company needs so badly, we will find you, expose you, and hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Price said.
Along with all of his formidable crime-fighting work, Price is always good for some pithy quotes.
Price’s office was implicated in the case against IBEW 1260 union boss Brian Ahakuelo, who is accused of using union finances as his personal expense account. There is a mythology about the invincibility of the unions in Hawaii. The price passed right away.
Between the high profile busts of crooked government employees and organized crime syndicates, there have been the more mundane cases of bank robberies, tax evasion, and illegal female sharks. Let’s not forget that the police officers who were convicted of serving time for a homeless man to leak a urinal were also taken out by US attorney Kenji Price.
(The case against Louis and Katherine Kealoha began long before Price’s term in office. The investigation was led by San Diego-based US assistant attorney Michael Wheat from 2015. The Wheat investigation culminated in the conviction of the former Honolulu police chief and his wife this week. Price did not handle the case, but he didn’t get in the way either.)
Price has the added benefit of being a Mililani high school senior, which puts him in the “local origin, global vision” category (that’s a quote from Neil Abercrombie that specifically describes Kai Kahele but perfectly sums up what it takes to be to be an effective guide in Hawaii … to understand this place and see the bigger picture from different angles.)
Hawaii was hurt by lame leadership and lack of brave old school heroism during these pandemic months, but also in the frenzied, crowded years that led to it all. Like The Mandalorian, Price landed on this crime-ridden outback rescuing ordinary workers from ruthless criminals, crooked cops, and various monsters who threaten the peace of our homeland. When he holds a press conference about a recent arrest, it’s always dispassionate and professional. No plays. This is the way.
Could we make a special request to Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono to tell Biden to leave? Sure, maybe someone else who happens to be a party supporter could shine the job, but Price is already doing it.
Price left his mark, but there is still a lot to be done and so much COVID-19 money is tossed around that it needs a vigilant watch dog on the job.
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