Friday, June 4, 1999

Sen. Ige testifies
before grand jury

Afterward, he hints that
the Senate will open an
inquiry into Bronster

By Rick Daysog


State Sen. Marshall Ige appeared before an Oahu grand jury yesterday to answer questions about an alleged illegal campaign-finance scheme involving Bishop Estate employees and vendors.

The grand jury -- directed by the state attorney general's office -- also questioned Ige's wife, Caryn, who was granted blanket immunity by state prosecutors yesterday for her testimony.

Sen. Ige denied wrongdoing as he left the courthouse, and hinted the state Senate would open an inquiry into the conduct of former Attorney General Margery Bronster, who spearheaded the investigation of the Bishop Estate.

He added that the ordeal has been hard on his family.

In a highly unpopular move, Ige and 13 other senators voted not to reconfirm Bronster for a second four-year term as the state's top law enforcement official.

The attorney general's office in September alleged Bishop Estate vendors paid $18,000 of Ige's campaign debts on the direction of trust employees, in apparent violation of state campaign laws.

Meanwhile, Caryn Ige initially invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when she was asked a question by the grand jury in the morning, according to her attorney Rustam Barbee.

She resumed her testimony after the state granted her immunity from the attorney general's office. Circuit Judge Frances Wong approved the immunity offer.

Deputy Attorney General Kurt Spohn told the judge that Caryn Ige's testimony would assist the grand jury's investigation. He declined to discuss details of the grand jury proceedings.

"My belief is that she does have knowledge of the matters that are being investigated," Spohn said.

Previously, Oahu grand juries indicted Bishop Estate trustees Henry Peters and Richard "Dickie" Wong on theft charges, stemming from an alleged kickback scheme involving estate land.

Peters, a former state House speaker and a longtime friend of Ige's, and Wong, a former state Senate president, both have pleaded not guilty.

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