The trial of a Honolulu businessman is providing a possible glimpse of Hawaii’s underworld

HONOLULU (AP) — A U.S. prosecutor revealed a possible glimpse into Hawaii’s underworld on Monday as he outlined the crimes a Honolulu businessman is accused of orchestrating: the kidnapping of a 72-year-old accountant who owed a debt, the release of a toxic chemical into a rival’s nightclubs and the killing of his late son’s best friend, among them.

Michael Miske Jr. was arrested in 2020, along with seven people whom prosecutors described as associates. But following a series of guilty pleas by the others — including a plea deal signed by his half-brother on Saturday — the trial opened with Miske as the lone defendant.

“The defendant used fear, violence and intimidation to get what he wanted,” Assistant U.S. Attorney William Akina said in his opening statement. “What he wanted was money, control and revenge.”

Miske’s attorney, Michael Kennedy, painted a completely different picture of his client.

Miske, 49, wasn’t a crime lord, but rather a “self-made man” who, despite growing up “on the wrong side of the tracks,” successfully built a family business called Kamaʻaina Termite and Pest Control, Kennedy said in his opening statement.

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