Thursday, July 22, 1999

Exec helps grand jury
in Bishop Estate probe

By Rick Daysog


In a surprise turn, the attorney general's office will not pursue criminal charges against an isle businessman who took part in a controversial Bishop Estate land deal.

Leighton Mau yesterday testified before an Oahu grand jury for more than an hour about his role in sale of the estate's fee interest in the 219-unit Kalele Kai condominium project in 1995.

Brook Hart, Mau's attorney, wouldn't provide details of Mau's testimony and said no immunity deal has been made with prosecutors. But he confirmed that the attorney general's office has decided not to pursue criminal charges against Mau.

"There is no deal, and there is an understanding that he will not be subject to prosecution," Hart said.

Senior Deputy Attorney General Lawrence Goya declined comment.

In November, an Oahu grand jury indicted Mau on conspiracy charges for his role in an alleged kickback scheme involving Bishop Estate trustee Henry Peters, who was indicted by the panel for theft, and local developer Jeffrey Stone, who was charged with commercial bribery. Earlier this month, Circuit Judge Michael Town dismissed the charges on the grounds that the grand jury proceedings were tainted by the testimony of Stone's former attorney.

The state went to the grand jury yesterday to seek new indictments.

Hart said Mau is prepared to testify under subpoena for either the prosecution or the defense if the case goes to trial. Mau went to the grand jury because he felt that he was not given the opportunity to present authorities with the facts of his involvement in the deal, he said.

"I came forward and asked to speak with them about the facts in the case. To their credit, they did the right thing," Hart said.

In the November indictment, the grand jury alleged that Stone and Cleveland-based National Housing Corp., who formed One Keahole Partners, received favorable treatment in their $21.9 million purchase fee interest of Kalele Kai.

In return, Stone -- a brother-in-law of Bishop Estate trustee Richard "Dickie" Wong -- indirectly purchased Peters' second-floor condominium in the upscale 1015 Wilder complex for $192,000 more than it was worth, the indictment said. According to the grand jury, Mau initially purchased Peters' condo using money borrowed from One Keahole Partners then deeded the property to the partnership in 1996.

Peters and Stone have denied wrongdoing and have argued that the Kalele Kai deal has benefited the estate. They have sued to halt the grand jury proceedings.

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