Honolulu Judge Drops Charges Against Former Surgeon General for Allegedly Flouting Virus Restrictions

Honolulu Judge Drops Charges Against Former Surgeon General for Allegedly Flouting Virus Restrictions
Surgeon General Jerome Adams walks to the West Wing of the White House after a television interview in Washington on July 7, 2020. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Tom Ozimek

A judge in Honolulu on Wednesday dismissed a case against former Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who faced criminal misdemeanor charges for allegedly violating local COVID-19 restrictions while in Hawaii to help with testing efforts.

The dismissal of charges came on the same day Adams announced that he had been asked by the Biden transition team to resign from his role as surgeon general, and one day after Honolulu prosecutors submitted a motion to dismiss charges against Adams and his aide, Dennis Anderson-Villaluz, for allegedly violating Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s Aug. 18 emergency proclamation, “Act Now Honolulu—No Social Gatherings.”
In Tuesday’s filing of a motion to dismiss charges, newly elected Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm said in a statement cited by local outlet KITV, “a prosecutor’s paramount goal is to do justice. After a careful review of the facts and law in this case, I have determined that further prosecution of this matter would not achieve that goal.”

“This office’s resources are better spent prosecuting other offenses, including serious violations of the Mayor’s emergency orders that pose a real threat to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Alm added.

Adams and Anderson-Villaluz were stopped by Honolulu police officers as the men were getting back in their car after walking through part of Kualoa Regional Park to get to the ocean on Aug. 23.

A Honolulu police officer cited Adams after seeing him with two men “looking at the view taking pictures” at the park, KITV reports.

Adams was in Hawaii to help with COVID-19 testing efforts amid a surge in infections, with their detention by officers taking place less than 24 hours after they arrived in Honolulu.

Following an initial court hearing, prosecutors filed criminal misdemeanor charges against Adams and Anderson-Villaluz, with convictions punishable by up to a $5,000 fine or up to a year in jail, or both.

According to a criminal complaint, Adams told the officer he was visiting Hawaii to work with the governor on COVID-19 and didn’t know parks were closed.

Adams had been granted a government exemption from requirements that travelers to Hawaii quarantine for 14 days because he was helping the state, his attorney, Michael Green, said.

The two men entered not guilty pleas through their attorney at a Nov. 2 arraignment.

Green said he spoke to Adams after the motion to dismiss was submitted Tuesday, saying Adams “was thrilled” by the development.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.