law firm bill
Nearly $15,000 went to S.F. lawyersBy Rick Daysog
for a case that did not involve
The Kamehameha Schools paid a San Francisco law firm nearly $15,000 to defend former state Sen. Milton Holt during a 1993 federal political corruption investigation, in the latest questionable expenditure involving the convicted former lawmaker.
The $6 billion charitable trust picked up Holt's legal tab with Farella Braun & Martell L.L.P. in 1994, even though the federal investigation did not involve the estate and apparently was not related to Holt's duties at the trust.
Estate records do not identify the nature of the federal investigation, but sources said it involved the alleged bribery attempt of then Senate President James Aki.
In 1993, the FBI conducted a preliminary inquiry into charges that Indonesian developer Sukamto Sia, then known as Sukarman Sukamto, offered to develop Aki's Nanakuli property if Aki would relinquish the senate presidency in favor of Holt.
Holt was then vice president of the Senate.
Holt, Aki and Sukamto were never charged and all have denied wrongdoing.
Sources said that Holt's legal payments were authorized by the estate's then-general counsel Nathan Aipa on the recommendation of C. Michael Heihre, formerly known as C. Michael Hare, one of the estate's outside attorneys.
In a four-page opinion dated Sept. 26, 1994, Heihre said that while the federal investigation was not linked to the Kamehameha Schools, Holt's employment at the trust gave him a higher profile and made him a "more controversial target," according to people who have seen the report.
Heihre also compared Holt's situation to that a corporate executive who is accused of wrongdoing.
Heihre is a former chairman of the nine-member state Judicial Selection Commission, which nominated the state Supreme Court justices. Until recently, the state Supreme Court selected Kamehameha Schools trustees.
Heihre, whose firm has conducted millions of dollars in legal work for the estate throughout the years, declined comment, citing attorney-client privilege.
Doug Young, the Farella Braun attorney who represented Holt in 1993, also had no response. The estate had no comment, a spokesman said, while Aipa, now the estate's chief operating officer, could not be reached for comment.
The 47-year-old Holt, a Kamehameha Schools graduate, joined the estate in 1987 as an associate athletic director and later served as special projects officer in the trust's government affairs division before the estate interim board of trustees terminated him last year. His tenure at the trust has been marked by legal entanglements and embarrassing disclosures.
Holt is serving time in a federal prison after he pleaded guilty to a mail fraud charge relating to campaign finance abuses. A federal grand jury indicted Holt for theft of thousands of dollars of campaign funds in 1998 and later added new charges that he used the campaign funds to pay for car insurance premiums and a family member's birthday party.
While awaiting trial, Holt tested positive for illegal drugs, violating the conditions of his bail.
The state attorney general has alleged that Holt spent thousands of dollars on the estate's credit cards at isle hostess clubs and Las Vegas casinos.
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