Wednesday, July 14, 1999

Ige arrested on
campaign charges

The charges signal that the
investigation of Bishop Estate
is moving forward

By Rick Daysog


Despite recent setbacks, state investigators are moving ahead with their criminal probe of the Bishop Estate, issuing a seven-count complaint against state Sen. Marshall Ige for alleged campaign finance abuse.

In a two-inch-thick filing in Honolulu District Court yesterday, the attorney general's office alleged that Ige (D, Kaneohe) failed to report campaign expenditures, failed to disclose a campaign deficit and accepted an improper campaign loan.

Ige -- an ally of the Bishop Estate's former trustees and a vocal critic of the state's investigation of the trust -- also provided false unsworn testimony when questioned about $22,500 in campaign loans from relatives, according to the state.

Each of the counts -- which involve Ige's unsuccessful 1994 state senatorial election campaign -- are misdemeanors and all but one arise from an alleged campaign fund-laundering scheme involving Bishop Estate and several of its vendors.

Misdemeanors are minor legal violations, while felonies are more serious criminal offenses.

If convicted, Ige could face up to a year in prison and a $2,000 fine for each campaign spending violation, according to Bob Watada, executive director of the state Campaign Spending Commission.

By Kathryn Benderr, Star-Bulletin
Marshall Ige talks to Robert Bunda on the last
day of this year's Legislature.

Ige also could be barred from holding elected office for four years if he is convicted of the campaign spending violation, Watada said.

Ige, 44, surrendered at the sheriff's office in District Court yesterday after the attorney general's office issued a warrant for his arrest.

Ige was booked, fingerprinted and released without bail.

Ige denied wrongdoing and said he will plead not guilty to the charges. He added that the ordeal has been trying for his family, who have continued to support him.

No trial date has been set. Arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday morning.

"They've spent tens of thousands of dollars on a grand jury which they came up with nothing but misdemeanors for which they didn't even need a grand jury," said Ige's attorney, Birney Bervar, who will request a jury trial. "The trial will show the truth, and the truth will show that Mr. Ige did nothing wrong."

Ige -- a longtime friend of Bishop Estate trustee Henry Peters and a former House vice speaker during Peters' term as speaker -- had no comment when asked if he believed the criminal charges were influenced by his outspoken criticism of the attorney general's investigation.

He was one of 14 senators who, in a highly unpopular move this year, voted not to confirm former Attorney General Margery Bronster for a second four-year term.

When asked about possible sanctions from lawmakers, Ige left the question to his fellow senators. Yesterday, a spokeswoman for Senate President Norman Mizuguchi, said the Senate could not take action against Ige unless he were convicted.

Shirley Cavanaugh, Mizuguchi's communications director, compared Ige's situation with that of former Senate President James Aki. The Senate in 1997 stripped Aki of his membership on Consumer Protection and Transportation committees after he pleaded no-contest to promoting gambling on his Nakakuli property.

"We can't take any action until that happens," Cavanaugh said. "He's elected by his constituents. That's just the way our democratic process works."

Ige is the second current or former legislator to face criminal charges arising from the so-called Bishop Estate campaign finance scheme.

Last October, a federal grand jury indicted former Sen. Milton Holt for diverting more than $9,000 of campaign funds for his own personal use.

Holt, who lost his Senate seat in 1996, allegedly used campaign funds to pay for auto insurance premiums and relatives' wedding and birthday celebrations at the Honolulu Country Club, the grand jury said.

Much of the campaign money came from the estate's outside vendors. Holt, who recently was laid off as a Bishop Estate employee, has pleaded not guilty and is asking a federal judge to dismiss the case.

Ige's indictment comes after a state judge recently threw out state grand jury indictments against trustees Peters and Richard "Dickie" Wong. Circuit Judge Michael Town dismissed criminal theft charges against the two trustees due to tainted testimony from a key witness.

The separate grand jury indictments alleged that Wong and Peters each received kickbacks of more than $100,000 from Wong's brother-in-law, local developer Jeffrey Stone, when Stone and his partners acquired the estate's fee interest beneath an upscale Hawaii Kai condominium complex in 1995. The criminal charges against Ige echo charges made last September in the state's suit to permanently remove the estate's five trustees and the Campaign Spending Commission's 16-count complaint against Ige.

In an affidavit filed with the complaint yesterday, state investigator John Tsukayama stated that Ige failed to report an $18,262 contribution from local architecture firm Kajioka Okada Yamachi Architects Inc. to cover a large printing bill owed to a Kalihi company, Ryan's Graphics Corp.

The Kajioka firm paid the printing bill after a now-deceased Bishop Estate employee, Namlyn Snow, directed Ryan to send the bill to the architecture firm.

The Kajioka firm is headed by Allen Kajioka, a longtime friend of Wong who served as Wong's campaign chairman when Wong was president of the state Senate. The architecture firm received more than $1 million in nonbid work.

Investigators also raised questions about $22,500 in family loans to the Ige campaign. The commission said the Ige campaign reported borrowing money from family members in 1994, but the family members said they could not recall making the loans. Ige later claimed that the loans were a gift from his now-deceased grandmother, who took up a collection from relatives.

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