The Bishop chairman's wifeBy Rick Daysog
and brother-in-law also plead
innocence in an alleged
Bishop Estate Chairman Richard "Dickie" Wong today pleaded not guilty to criminal charges relating to an alleged kickback scheme involving trust land in Hawaii Kai.
Wong's wife, Mari Stone Wong, and his brother-in-law Jeffrey Stone also pleaded not guilty to all charges relating to the estate's sale of its fee interest to the 219-unit Kalele Kai condominium project.
Wong, a former state Senate president, appeared at his arraignment before Circuit Judge Michael Town this morning and made a brief statement critical of the charges against his wife.
"Even Al Capone and his people, they never indicted his wife," Wong said.
Town has scheduled a hearing for the week of Aug. 9.
Last week, an independent Oahu grand jury -- convened by Attorney General Margery Bronster -- indicted Wong for theft, perjury and criminal conspiracy for allegedly taking a $115,800 kickback from Stone.
The grand jury said Stone received preferential treatment when he and his mainland partners acquired the land beneath the Kalele Kai project in 1995 for $21.9 million.
The secret panel also indicted Mari Wong for criminal conspiracy and hindering prosecution, and Stone for commercial bribery, conspiracy and serving as an accomplice to theft.
Mari Wong left the courthouse in tears, calling the latest turn of events "madness."
"I'd like to thank all the hundreds of people who have been writing and calling who pretty much agree with me that this is turning into madness," she said.
Meanwhile, Stone's lawyer, John Edmunds, said he plans to seek a dismissal of the charges, saying the grand jury's proceedings were "tainted" by testimony from a key witness, attorney Richard Frunzi.
Frunzi is Stone's former lawyer who recently was sentenced by a federal judge to five years in prison for an unrelated money-laundering scheme.
Transcripts of Frunzi's testimony before a separate grand jury that indicted trustee Henry Peters for theft last November were rife with unsubstantiated speculation by Frunzi, Edmunds said.
That grand jury also indicted Stone for commercial bribery and conspiracy. Peters and Stone have pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Senior Deputy Attorney General Lawrence Goya said Frunzi's grand jury testimony in the Peters case is separate from his later testimony in the Wong case.
Town has tentatively scheduled a hearing on the dismissal motion for the first week of May.
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