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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, April 24, 2010

Liquor agency exec resigns

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Dewey Kim Jr.

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The administrator of the Honolulu Liquor Commission will resign his post at the end of May, six months after the commission placed him on leave pending the outcome of an investigation.

Dewey Kim Jr. will "voluntarily resign" effective May 31, Liquor Commission chairman Dennis Enomoto said yesterday in a news release. Enomoto did not say why Kim is resigning, except to say Kim will "pursue other interests."

Neither Enomoto nor Kim could be reached for comment yesterday.

Kim, 56, will remain with the commission until May 31 to "assist in transitional work," Enomoto said. Assistant Administrator Anna Hirai will serve as acting administrator until a replacement for Kim is found.

Kim was placed on paid leave Nov. 30 while the commission conducted an investigation of him. Enomoto would not disclose the nature of the investigation, except to say it did not involve accusations of criminal wrongdoing.

But Kim hinted last year that the probe involved commission employees who were not happy with his management style. He said in December that he was confident he would be cleared of any wrongdoing .

There was no reference to the investigation in the commission's news release yesterday.

The commission is responsible for issuing liquor licenses to bars, restaurants and other businesses and is charged with enforcing liquor laws.

Kim was appointed as its administrator in April 2006 and vowed to bring respect back to the commission, which has been the subject of corruption investigations and other controversies.

In 2002, a federal grand jury indicted eight former investigators on charges of racketeering, bribery, extortion and related offenses. All eight were found guilty and received prison sentences.

At the time, prosecutors described it as the state's largest corruption case involving a government agency.

More allegations of corruption surfaced in 2007 when a former liquor inspector pleaded guilty to extorting nightclub owners in exchange for providing information about Liquor Commission inspections. The inspector admitted to allowing the club owners to operate in violation of liquor laws.

In 2005, then-administrator Wally Weatherwax was stripped of his duties and later resigned. In February 2009, commissioner Danny Kim resigned after he was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.