Federal prosecutors allege Oahu businessman Michael Miske Jr. provided a 23-year-old man a place to live “so he could keep tabs on him” in the days leading up to the man’s murder.
Miske’s arraignment was held Thursday at Honolulu federal court via telephonic hearing after he was indicted on 17 charges that include racketeering, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, robbery, murder for hire conspiracy, firearms, chemical weapons, drugs and bank fraud.
When asked by U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth Mansfield whether he understood the nature of the allegations against him, Miske replied, “Yes, your honor” via phone from the Honolulu Federal Detention Center.
Attorney Thomas Otake, who is representing Miske, entered a not guilty plea to all charges. Mansfield set Miske’s trial for September.
A detention hearing is also scheduled to be held Tuesday on a government motion requesting to detain Miske pending the trial, citing Miske as a flight risk and a “grave danger to the community.”
In the motion filed Wednesday at federal court, the government alleges Miske, 46, as the “unquestioned leader of a racketeering enterprise which routinely committed violent crimes and assaults and used threats and intimidation to protect the illegal activities which enriched and furthered the interests of Miske and the enterprise.”
At a Wednesday news conference, Sam Miranda, FBI special agent in charge of the Honolulu Field Office said: “The Miske criminal enterprise was identified several years ago by the FBI along with federal and local partners, who have worked tirelessly to stop it. Investigations into sophisticated criminal organizations like this one take time and patience.”
Miranda said the Miske criminal enterprise modeled itself after big city organized crime groups.
Authorities accused the organization of using businesses to further its criminal objectives, including Kamaaina Termite & Pest Control, Kamaaina Holdings, Hawaii Partners, Kamaaina Plumbing and Home Renovations, Kamaaina Home Renovations, Makana Pacific Development, and the Encore Nightclub formerly known as M Nightclub.
According to the government’s motion, Miske and the criminal enterprise waged violence against “rivals, competitors and innocent members of the community over a period spanning years, if not decades. In so doing, Miske participated in, directed and facilitated numerous assaults, kidnapping, extortion, the use of firearms, attempted murder and murder for hire.”
The government also accused Miske of “his meticulously planned and premeditated abduction, kidnapping and murder of Johnathan Fraser in July 2016.”
Federal prosecutors alleged the planning of Fraser’s murder was revenge for Miske’s ”mistaken belief” that Fraser was the driver of a vehicle involved in a two-vehicle collision in November 2015.
Miske’s son, Caleb-Jordan Keanu Miske-Lee, died March 2016 from injuries sustained in the crash.
The government alleged Miske purchased a $425,000 boat “to dispose of Fraser’s body.” Federal prosecutors also alleged Miske provided Fraser a place to live to keep track of him.
Fraser was last seen at his Hawaii Kai apartment on July 30, 2016. He was never found.
Of the allegations, Otake said, “Despite the Feds trying to paint Mr. Miske out to be public enemy No. 1 in their unsubstantiated filing, it is indisputable that he has successful businesses in Honolulu for many years, and provided employment to countless individuals in our community.”
“Mr. Miske pled not guilty, is presumed innocent, and looks forward to his day in Court,” Otake said Thursday in a text.
Prosecutors also asserted he’s a flight risk because of his access to vast financial resources. A review of his financial transactions from 2010 to 2017 showed he spent approximately $15.8 million on major expenditures that include luxury vehicles, watches, jewelry, art and property.
In the years-long investigation, the government indicated federal agents gathered evidence on the crime organization that include hours of surveillance on Miske and his alleged associates as well grand jury testimonies of dozens of witnesses.
Federal agents arrested Miske at his home in Kailua early Wednesday.
He has a criminal record of six felony convictions for attempted assault, kidnapping, fraudulent use of a credit card and theft.
In 2013, Miske was charged with second-degree assault for allegedly assaulting Washington Redskins tackle Trent Williams at M Nightclub. A judge dismissed the case after a prosecutor told the judge that a National Football League official told him Williams will not return to Hawaii for the trial.
Arraignments were also held Thursday for Miske’s alleged associates: John Stancil, Kaulana Freitas, Preston Kimoto, Michael Buntenbah, Hunter Wilson and Jarrin Young. All remain in custody at the federal detention center following their arrests Wednesday. Court-appointed attorneys entered not guilty pleas to all charges on their behalves.
Norman Akau III, who was also named in the federal indictment, turned himself in to authorities Wednesday.
Others named in the indictment are Dae Han Moon, Lance Bermudez and Harry Kauhi.
Moon was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after he was convicted of murder in the 2016 Christmas Day shooting of 20-year-old Stevie Feliciano at Ala Moana Center.
Bermudez was convicted of hindering prosecution in that case.