US surgeon general pleads not guilty to Hawaii citation

  • FILE - In this Sept. 9, 2020, file photo, Surgeon General Jerome Adams takes off his face mask as he appears on Capitol Hill in Washington. A lawyer for Surgeon General Adams pleaded not guilty Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, on behalf of Adams, who was cited by Honolulu police for being in a closed park during a trip to help Hawaii cope with a spike in coronavirus cases. Adams didn’t travel to Hawaii for the arraignment. (Michael Reynolds/Pool via AP, File)

HONOLULU — A lawyer for U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams pleaded not guilty Monday on behalf of the official who was cited in August by Honolulu police for being in a closed park during a trip to help Hawaii cope with a spike in coronavirus cases.

Adams didn’t travel to Hawaii for the arraignment.

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Adams’ aide, Dennis Anderson-Villaluz, also cited in August, also pleaded not guilty to violating the emergency order.

When an officer found them, the mayor had closed all beach parks to prevent gatherings of people. Adams was taking photos at Kualoa Regional Park on Oahu’s northeastern coast, according to the citation.

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

“It’s an embarrassment to the state,” Adams’ Honolulu defense attorney, Michael Green, said after Monday’s hearing. “They’re treating him like he brought the pandemic here.”

Government officials had waived for Adams a requirement that travelers to Hawaii quarantine for 14 days because he was helping the state, Green said.

“No one is given special treatment under the law regardless of who they are,” said a statement from Deborah Kwan, a spokeswoman for the Honolulu prosecuting attorney’s office.

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Adams was in the park with his aide and a tour guide to see if he wanted to go for a swim, Green said, which was allowed.

Violating any of the mayor’s emergency orders is punishable as a misdemeanor. If found guilty, Adams and his aide could face fines of up to $5,000, up to a year in jail or both.

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