Two businessmen included
in a land deal investigation also
pleaded not guilty today
Lindsey defense continuesBy Rick Daysog
Bishop Estate trustee Henry Peters this morning pleaded not guilty to a criminal theft charge relating to an alleged kickback scheme involving estate land.
Peters appeared at his arraignment at Circuit Court with local businessmen Jeffrey Stone and Leighton Mau, who also pleaded not guilty to related criminal indictments.
Each faces 10 years in jail if convicted.
Peters' lawyer Renee Yuen said she plans to appeal a Wednesday decision by Circuit Judge Michael Town to uphold the criminal charges. Peters declined comment as he left the court.
"As to the indictment, Mr. Peters is absolutely not guilty," Yuen said.
Said Mau's attorney Brook Hart, "This is a big case, we have many documents, and it is a complex case."
Town tentatively set trial for the week of Jan. 17. The trial is expected to run six to eight weeks.
Today's arraignment and pleas come three months after a 16-member Oahu grand jury convened by Attorney General Margery Bronster voted to indict Peters on a criminal theft charge relating to a Hawaii Kai land deal.
The Nov. 25 indictment said Stone bought Peters' Makiki condominium for $192,000 more than it was worth in exchange for preferential treatment when Stone and his partners acquired the estate's fee interest to the 229-unit Kalele Kai complex.
The grand jury indicted Stone, a brother-in-law of Bishop Estate trustee Richard "Dickie" Wong, for conspiracy, commercial bribery and serving as an accomplice to a theft. Mau was charged for conspiracy and for serving as an accomplice.
All three have denied wrongdoing. Wednesday, they lost their bid to have the indictments dismissed on the grounds Bronster lacks the primary legal authority to conduct criminal prosecutions.
They also alleged she has a conflict of interest in serving as law enforcement officer and the estate's legal guardian.
Lindseys role in
costly deal examined
Two Bishop trustees say she wasBy Rick Daysog
improperly involved in the
failed $5 million project
A top Bishop Estate executive testified about a failed $5 million investment in a distance-learning system allegedly backed by trustee Lokelani Lindsey.
Rodney Park, director of the trust's administration groups, said the estate last year pulled the plug on its controversial purchase of computer hardware and software from Arizona-based Educational Management Group Inc.
In testimony in the removal trial of Lindsey yesterday, Park said the estate's in-house computer staff has since developed a cheaper educational technology system for Kamehameha Schools students.
"It was not necessarily a bad deal. I may have used those words," said Park, referring to the EMG purchase. "But I think what I really meant and should have said was it was a premium we paid to kick-start technology in the classroom."
The EMG system, which included some 22 work stations, attempted to link Kamehameha School's classrooms with mainland education experts through a satellite hookup. But teachers have criticized the system as ineffective for high school students, and other faculty members found it difficult to reach mainland experts given Hawaii's time differences.
The project, initiated in 1993, was shelved last December.
Bishop Estate trustees Oswald Stender and Gerard Jervis blame Lindsey for the fiasco, saying she initiated the costly EMG purchase despite internal staff recommendations that it would be cheaper for the estate to develop its own system.
They argue that Lindsey and her husband received free airfare on a jet chartered by EMG to the 1997 Super Bowl game in New Orleans.
Lindsey, meanwhile, has said she took no part in the EMG negotiations and has since repaid the company for the New Orleans flight.
Park yesterday said he, and not Lindsey, negotiated the EMG purchase. Park also noted that Kamehameha Schools President Michael Chun and school Vice President Rockne Freitas were big backers of the project.
But under cross-examination from Stender's lawyer Doug Ing, Park acknowledged that he sent memos to Lindsey to keep her informed about the progress of the EMG purchase. One memo included a handwritten note from Lindsey indicating that she approved of the purchase.
But Park said he was not asking for Lindsey's formal permission; he was sounding her out for any concerns she may have. The executive said he sent no such memos to the other four trustees of the Bishop Estate.
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