Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Wong sues governor,

The former Bishop Estate trustee
claims their charges were malicious

By Rick Daysog

Former Kamehameha Schools Chairman Richard "Dickie" Wong and his family have sued Gov. Ben Cayetano, Attorney General Earl Anzai and former Attorney General Margery Bronster, alleging malicious prosecution.

In a 12-page complaint filed in state Circuit Court yesterday, Wong's attorney, Eric Seitz, said that the Attorney General's Office improperly sought criminal indictments against Wong to bolster its attempt to remove Wong as a trustee of Kamehameha Schools, formerly known as the Bishop Estate.

Seitz is seeking unspecified general and punitive damages and legal costs, which could amount to several million dollars.

"(There) is not and never was any legal or factual basis for convening any of the grand juries to indict plaintiffs and that the defendants acted deliberately, flagrantly, arrogantly, maliciously and repetitively in bad faith ... for the purposes of obtaining indictments," Seitz said.

The Circuit Court suit comes after U.S. District Judge Alan Kay in June dismissed a similar federal suit on the grounds that the Attorney General's Office is immune from lawsuits that arise from their prosecutorial functions.

First Deputy Attorney General Rick Keller, who also was named in the suit, declined comment, saying he has not seen Wong's complaint.

In the past, the Attorney General's Office characterized Wong's suit as a waste of taxpayer's money and said that its lawyers were acting in their roles as advocates for the state when they pursued their criminal case against him.

Wong, a former president of the state Senate, served as a Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate trustee from 1993 to 1999, when he and his fellow trustees resigned under fire.

At the time, the Attorney General's Office had sued for removal of the $6 billion estate's board and sought criminal indictments against Wong and ex-trustee Henry Peters in an alleged kickback scheme over a trust land deal in Hawaii Kai.

According to Seitz, the Attorney General's Office committed misconduct by "deliberately and flagrantly" misleading an Oahu grand jury into indicting Wong twice for the same land deal.

Wong has denied that he received a kickback and has said that the trust earned millions from the Hawaii Kai deal.

Both indictments were thrown out by Circuit Judge Michael Town, who found that prosecutors denied Wong an unbiased grand jury by illegally bolstering the testimony of one of its key witness. Town's dismissal was upheld by the state Supreme Court.

Peters' case was also dismissed.

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