Thursday, January 29, 1998

Casino, bar charges
made on estate cards

Records show ex-Sen. Holt charged
$21,000 at casinos and clubs

By Rick Daysog

Former state Sen. Milton Holt ran up about $21,000 on Bishop Estate credit cards at local strip clubs, restaurants and Las Vegas casinos between 1993 and 1997, according to documents subpoenaed by the state attorney general.

Holt, now a special projects officer for the estate and a former Kamehameha Schools assistant athletic director, racked up $1,500 in charges on an estate credit card last Halloween at the Misty II hostess bar on Kapiolani Boulevard, the state said.

The Halloween charges came after Attorney General Margery Bronster had already begun her investigation into allegations of financial mismanagement and breaches of fiduciary duties at the $10 billion charitable trust.

Yesterday, the state filed a motion seeking sanctions against Bishop Estate, saying it withheld subpoenaed information such as Holt's credit card records. The state has accused the estate's lawyers of attempting to delay its investigation by raising repetitive but unsuccessful objections to its subpoenas.

"These documents are relevant to the issue of the trustees' breach of fiduciary duty by wasting trust assets," the state said.

Holt was not available for comment and Richard Wong, chairman of the estate's board of trustees, had no response, saying he has not seen the motion.

William McCorriston, Bishop Estate's attorney, declined comment on Holt's credit card expenses. But he said the estate is complying with the state's inquiry and has handed over more than 25,000 pages of documents.

McCorriston noted that the estate has given the state Holt's credit card records and other subpoenaed documents, but conceded that it ran into delays due to the volume of documents it had to produce.

Sen. Holt charges

Circuit Court Judge Kevin Chang has scheduled a March 3 hearing on the proposed sanctions.

The state alleged that on Oct. 20, 1997, it subpoenaed the Bishop Estate for balance statements, checks and correspondence related to credit cards issued to Holt that are paid by the estate.

In an affidavit, Deputy Attorney General Lawrence Goya said the estate provided some documents, but initially left out other records involving Holt's charges. Bank of Hawaii, which issued the estate's Visa card, supplied the information under subpoena.

According to the state, Holt's charges on Bishop Estate's credit cards included:

More than $12,700 in cash advances and other charges at various Las Vegas casinos between 1993 and 1996.

A $1,500 charge at the New Secret hostess bar on June 1, 1997.

A $1,000 bill at Saigon Passion III on May 27, 1996

Two charges totaling $1,416 at the Evergreen Restaurant on May 29, 1996.

Holt, who lost his Senate seat to Suzanne Chun Oakland in 1996, is often described as a talented former legislator who has had his scrapes with the law. In 1991, Holt was charged with spouse abuse, and he was arrested several years ago in New Orleans for public drunkenness. The New Orleans charges later were dropped.

Randall Roth, a local trust law expert and co-author of the "Broken Trust" article that prompted the state to open its investigation, said the disclosure of Holt's credit card billings raises "red flags" that the estate may lack appropriate safeguards to ensure accountability.

He believes the organization should have caught on earlier to such expenditures.

"You wonder what's worse -- to have known about these and done nothing or not to have known about them," said Roth.

In addition to Holt's expenditures, the state alleges that the Bishop Estate withheld other subpoenaed material: a letter from an in-house attorney involving its purchase of the so-called Van Dyke collection of Hawaiian artifacts, and records in internal audit reports.

The Van Dyke letter -- which the state said it received after issuing a subpoena to Title Guaranty of Hawaii Inc. -- would show whether the estate paid too much for the collection. That, in turn, might indicate whether trustee Lokelani Lindsey breached her fiduciary duties by encouraging the trust to pay a higher price for the collection, the state said.

Lindsey has denied any breach, saying the trust did not overpay for the collection.

"The Bishop Estate has been selectively withholding properly subpoenaed documents indicating breaches of trust and breaches of fiduciary duty by the trustees," the state said.

Bishop Estate Archive

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor] [Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1998 Honolulu Star-Bulletin