Tuesday, December 7, 1999

Grand jury
investigating land
deal subpoenas
Wong, Stone

The jury, directed by the state
Attorney General, is looking at
a Bishop Estate deal

Peters says he won't quit

By Rick Daysog


On the day he resigned permanently from his $1 million-a-year post, an Oahu grand jury tried to subpoena former Bishop Estate trustee Richard "Dickie" Wong in an apparent attempt to revive a criminal case against him.

State investigators also subpoenaed Wong's former brother-in-law, local developer Jeffrey Stone, to testify Thursday before the grand jury, said Stone's attorney, John Edmunds.

The grand jury, being directed by the state attorney general's office, has been investigating a controversial Hawaii Kai land deal between Bishop Estate and a company affiliated with Stone. Previous indictments against Wong, Stone and Wong's former wife, Mari, were thrown out by Circuit Judge Michael Town.

Wong, an estate trustee since 1993 who was temporarily removed in May, submitted his resignation to the estate's court-appointed board on Friday. By doing that, he avoided a trial next Monday over a suit to permanently remove him from the multibillion-dollar trust.

Wong was not available for comment and his attorney, Eric Seitz, could not immediately be reached for response. But a receptionist at Seitz's office confirmed that state investigators attempted to serve a grand jury subpoena for Wong's testimony Friday, but were unable to do so since Seitz was out of town.

Senior Deputy Attorney General Lawrence Goya, heading the state's criminal investigation of the former Bishop trustees, declined comment.

Edmunds protested Stone's subpoena during a hearing before Town to dismiss separate indictments against Stone and ousted trustee Henry Peters. Edmunds complained that the attorney general's office is attempting to drag out the dismissal hearing to coincide with the grand jury's criminal investigation.

Edmunds said the subpoena, issued yesterday, did not specify whether Stone was a witness or a target of the new grand jury's investigation.

In April, another Oahu grand jury indicted Wong for theft and perjury and Stone for commercial bribery and conspiracy for their alleged role in the controversial Kalele Kai land deal.

The grand jury, which also indicted Mari Wong for hindering prosecution and conspiracy, had alleged that Stone acquired Wong's Makiki condominium at an inflated price in exchange for preferential treatment for the fee-interest to the 219-unit Kalele Kai project.

Wong, his ex-wife and Stone have denied wrongdoing. Wong said he recused himself from all matters relating to the Kalele Kai transaction, adding that the deal benefited the trust tremendously.

Town threw out the indictments in June, saying state prosecutors "illegally bolstered" the testimony of Stone's former attorney, Richard Frunzi. Frunzi is serving time in a mainland prison after he pleaded guilty to federal money laundering charges.

Peters says he won’t quit

By Rick Daysog


Embattled former Bishop Estate trustee Henry Peters said he has given no thought to resigning permanently from the 115-year-old trust.

Peters, who was temporarily removed from the trust in May, said he's so focused on getting the state's criminal case against him dismissed that he's not even thinking about Monday's start to the trial over his permanent removal.

His comments came after former estate chairman Richard "Dickie" Wong stepped down on Friday, leaving Peters the only member of the previous board who has not stepped down or been permanently removed by court order.

"Why would I step down?" Peters said. "You never step down if you have a task to do."

Peters said it was unfortunate that Wong resigned, and charged that he and Wong have been the target of a political conspiracy hatched by Gov. Ben Cayetano and the attorney general's office.

"I look forward to winning this case and proving that all of this was viciously and maliciously planned and manufactured by the attorney general's office and the governor's office ... for the sole purpose of destroying innocent people," Peters said.

"There's been a lot of pain and suffering."

Cayetano and the attorney general's office have denied that their investigation of the Bishop Estate and its trustees is politically motivated.

Peters was in court yesterday for final arguments on several motions seeking to dismiss criminal indictments against him and local developer Jeffrey Stone. Closing arguments were held over to tomorrow.

Earlier this year, an Oahu grand jury indicted Peters for theft and Stone for commercial bribery over a Hawaii Kai land deal involving estate land. Each has denied wrongdoing.

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