Thursday, March 11, 1999

Wong’s builder talks
to grand jury

By Rick Daysog


An Oahu grand jury met this morning to hear testimony about Bishop Estate chairman Richard "Dickie" Wong's involvement in an alleged kickback scheme involving trust land.

The secret grand jury, convened at the request of Attorney General Margery Bronster, subpoenaed an employee from Amstrong Builders Ltd., Gary Herald, whose company conducted work on Wong's Kahala home.

Herald had no comment as he entered the grand jury room in state Circuit Court this morning. Deputy Attorney General Lawrence Goya also declined comment.

Previously, the grand jury heard testimony from Wong's secretary and his accountant.

The panel also questioned employees of Wong's brother-in-law, Jeffrey Stone.

The panel is looking into the $21.9 million sale of the estate's fee interest in the Kalele Kai condominium complex in 1995 to a partnership involving Stone.

Bronster said she believes the estate gave Stone and his mainland partners a "sweetheart" deal for the Hawaii Kai lease-to-fee conversion.

In return, Stone and a business partner paid inflated prices for Makiki condominiums owned by Wong and fellow trustee Henry Peters, Bronster has said. Stone also sold a Kahala home to Wong.

A separate grand jury indicted Peters for theft last November.

Wong, Stone and Peters have denied wrongdoing, saying the Kalele Kai deal benefited the trust. Wong, who was questioned by a separate grand jury about the Kalele Kai deal last November, said he recused himself from all negotiations involving the Kalele Kai transaction.

Eric Seitz, Wong's attorney, this morning said he doesn't believe the grand jury will indict his client.

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