ATTORNEY GENERAL: Papers related to
questionable credit charges were moved
just before a subpoena
BISHOP ATTORNEY: Not so; all papers
were turned over to the state
BELOW: Lindsey's lawyerBy Rick Daysog
disputes P.I. story
Bishop Estate officials last month moved records of questionable credit card charges by former state Sen. Milton Holt from a Hawaii Kai office to its downtown headquarters, in an apparent attempt to evade subpoenas, the state attorney general's office said.
But estate attorney William McCorriston denied the allegation, saying the trust has turned over the documents to the state.
The legal skirmish is the latest in the months-long courtroom battle between the estate and Attorney General Margery Bronster, who is investigating charges of financial mismanagement by Bishop Estate trustees.
On Tuesday, Bronster filed court papers stating that Bishop Estate's in-house lawyer, Nathan Aipa, in January instructed former estate auditor Dennis Fern to deliver records of Holt's credit card bills to the estate's Kawaiahao Plaza offices.
The request came a day before state investigator John Tsukayama appeared at Fern's Hawaii Kai offices with a subpoena for the Holt records.
The documents show Holt charged about $20,000 at local hostess bars and Las Vegas casinos on Bishop Estate credit cards between 1992 and 1997. The state said it was able to obtain the Holt records only after it subpoenaed Bank of Hawaii for the estate's VISA cards.
Holt has repaid the estate, trustee Lokelani Lindsey has said.
"These circumstances raise the reasonable inference that the Bishop Estate willfully attempted to evade the attorney general's subpoena," the state said.
"It now appears that Bishop Estate has continued its stonewalling and failure to produce records relating to Holt's credit card charges."
Fern, now president of Bishop Estate's Kukui Inc. for-profit subsidiary, declined comment. An estate spokesman also declined comment.
But McCorriston said Bronster is rushing to judgment in her assumption that the estate hid documents.
He likened the state's allegations to previous charges that a secretary for Lindsey was destroying computer files. That turned out to be "a bunch bull," he said.
McCorriston said it was "no coincidence" Bronster's office filed its latest memorandum a day after he filed a motion with the Hawaii Supreme Court to suspend a lower court ruling ordering the estate to hand over documents it filed with the Internal Revenue Service.
The IRS documents would show whether trustees received personal benefits at the expense of the estate, the state has alleged.
The state, meanwhile, said it is supporting Bishop Estate trustees Gerard Jervis' and Oswald Stender's petition for a special administrator to address its investigation.
Bronster has argued that the estate has created numerous delays for her investigation.
She also alleged that trustees are in conflict in responding to subpoenas that affect their personal interests.
"The Bishop Estate Controversy," a live, 90-minute discussion between attorneys from differing sides of the issue, will air from 6:30 to 8 p.m. tomorrow on Channel 55 (Oceanic) and Channel 21 (Hawaii Kai).
Attorneys will face off on TVBy Star-Bulletin staff
in Bishop Estate controversy
Randall Roth, author of "Broken Trust" and president-elect of the Hawaii State Bar Association; Beatrice Dawson, attorney for Na Pua a Ke Ali'i Pauahi; William McCorriston, attorney for Bishop Estate; and Allen Hoe, director of the Native Hawaiian Bar Association, will join host Robert J. LeClair, Hawaii attorney and Kapiolani Community College professor.
"It's really the first time we'll have a head-to-head discussion between Roth and McCorriston," LeClair said.
"I'm pleased they're willing to have public dialogue."
Viewers will be able to call and ask questions of the panelists.
The show will be rebroadcast Feb. 22 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Lindsey attorneys disputeBy Star-Bulletin staff
story on P.I.s findings
Attorneys for Bishop Estate trustee Lokelani Lindsey are disputing a Star-Bulletin report that they've hired an ex-FBI agent who is investigating potential wrongdoing by Lindsey's fellow trustees.
Star-Bulletin managing editor David Shapiro said the newspaper stands by the story.
Lindsey attorney William Harrison didn't deny that he has hired investigator Hilton Lui, but said it's standard practice for attorneys to hire investigators.
"The Honolulu Star-Bulletin has seen fit once again to embellish its reporting to make events more interesting than they are," he said.
"Specifically, investigator Hilton Lui denies telling Star-Bulletin reporter Rick Daysog anything whatsoever about the subject or results of his investigation."
Harrison released a statement by Lui in which the investigator said he spoke to Daysog only briefly and "did not tell him I was investigating potential wrongdoing by Bishop Estate trustees."
"I did not tell him I had uncovered possible wrongdoing by several trustees," Lui said.
"As a professional investigator with 23 years of experience in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, I would never tell a news reporter these things," Lui said.
Yesterday, attorneys for Bishop Estate trustees Oswald Stender and Gerard Jervis challenged the denial that Lui is looking into wrongdoing by other trustees.
"Several months ago, trustees Stender and Jervis learned that Mr. Lui was retained by Mrs. Lindsey and was asking questions about one or more other trustees," their attorneys said.
Shapiro said the Star-Bulletin accurately reported what Lui said.
"The tape recording of Rick's telephone interview with Hilton Lui shows it's simply not true that it was only a brief conversation or that Lui did not discuss the subject or results of his investigation," Shapiro said.
"They talked for 20 minutes. While Mr. Lui didn't reveal his specific findings, he clearly confirmed what we reported: that he is looking into wrongdoing by several trustees and that he believes he has found wrongdoing."
Following are relevant parts of the interview:
Star-Bulletin: I've heard your name a couple of times in these stories I've been working on.
Lui: What kind?
S-B: Well, this Bishop Estate stuff. How long have you been working with Harrison and those guys?
Lui: Uhhh. Several months.
S-B: You been working with Loke's stuff?
S-B: You guys turn anything up? Is there anything interesting?
Lui: We have but I don't think they're ready to kind of release anything yet. You'll have to, you know, go through Bill and Keith (Harrison and his partner, Keith Matsuoka). We've come up with some stuff.
S-B: You're looking at what, the whole issue or you just looking at the other trustees?
Lui: What we're trying to do is we're trying to, as things come up, then we need to find out really what the truth is -- not go on, basically, these wild allegations. So basically, my job is to, if there's a witness that comes up, to see if I can contact the witness, to see the witness is telling the truth or not.
S-B: Have you found any wrongdoing by other trustees?
Lui: Ummmmm. Yes.
S-B: You don't care to specify?
Lui: No, I can't.
S-B: OK. Alrighty. So is it just two trustees, three trustees, four trustees that you've been looking into?
HL: Basically, several of them.
Kamehameha staff wants promiseBy Mary Adamski
trustees won't influence union vote
Kamehameha Schools teachers who seek to form a union want Bishop Estate trustees to guarantee that faculty will not be pressured by threat or special treatment to vote against a union.
Teachers at the Kalihi campus were already required to attend three meetings at which Kamehameha President Michael Chun proposed a nonunion faculty organization to address their concerns, said Dean Choy, attorney for the Kamehameha Schools Faculty Association.
The latest meeting was Tuesday, one day after the association won a National Labor Relations Board ruling assuring that teachers may vote on whether they want to be represented by a union.
Choy yesterday said attendance was required of all teachers, grades K-12. Chun made a similar pitch for a professional organization at separate sessions for elementary and secondary teachers last week, he said.
"That's what's known as a captive audience," Choy said. "They targeted on the same people who will vote. They heard Chun tell why he didn't think a union is necessary. He proposed a nonunion faculty association."
The teachers group seeks a promise from school officials that no further "captive audience" meetings will be held on the subject unless both sides are given equal time to present their cases.
That is one of six points in the "fair election pledge," which the faculty association has asked from Bishop Estate trustees.
Choy said he is also looking into the possibility that the Tuesday assembly violated National Labor Relations Board rules.
"There are legal rules that limit the kind of campaigning that can occur. If those rules are broken, we would file an unfair labor practice charge," he said.
The union representation election will likely be set for the second week of March. Choy said the association is working with federal labor officials to nail down a date.
A spokesman for Bishop Estate indicated earlier that trustees are considering whether to appeal the ruling handed down in San Francisco Monday to the labor board's national headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Choy said a March date would give sufficient time for an appeal to be filed and a response from Washington.
"In the vast majority of cases, they (the board) decline," he said.
Some 260 teachers, 70 percent of the faculty, signed the petition in December seeking permission to hold a union election. At a January hearing, Bishop Estate argued that the teachers and librarians could not organize because they are managers or supervisors.
Choy said the schools president has also "solicited individual participation of teachers in forming a task force to flesh out his faculty association proposal."
"It is somewhat modeled on the Kamehameha Schools Association -- KSA -- which Chun disbanded when he assumed the presidency," Choy said. "He is now talking about resurrecting it."
Other election ground rules which the teachers' group suggests in their "fair election pledge" include:
No employee will be threatened with a transfer or loss of job or benefits because of support or opposition to the union.
No employee will be questioned about his or her position on the election under circumstances that will tend to restrain or coerce the employee.
No employee will be promised benefits or special treatment to influence his or her vote.
Employees will be encouraged by both sides to fully use their rights of free speech and free association.
All statements, verbal or written, by either side will conform to the highest standards of accuracy, fairness and honesty.