The Bishop Estate trustee'sBy Rick Daysog
apartment is searched by
investigators for the
State investigators, armed with a warrant, have searched and videotaped Bishop Estate trustee Henry Peters' luxury condominium in Makiki.
At least four investigators working for the state attorney general's office -- which is investigating charges that Peters and fellow Bishop Estate trustee Richard Wong received kickbacks -- arrived at Peters' 1015 Wilder apartment yesterday morning to examine his 12th-floor apartment, according to Peters' attorney Renee Yuen.
Yuen said the investigators brought along a local appraiser, Raymond Lesher, who conducted an evaluation of the apartment. The group also included a member from the Goodenow Associates detective firm, she said.
"I'm totally shocked. I considered what the attorney general's office did yesterday as Gestapo tactics," Yuen said. "I have not seen that kind of show of force." Yuen said she was not aware of any records being seized.
The attorney general's office declined comment today.
A grand jury is investigating charges that Peters and Wong received kickbacks from Wong's brother-in-law, Jeff Stone. According to the attorney general's office, Stone paid inflated prices for Wong and Peters' apartments at the Wilder complex. All three have denied the charges.
Sandy Kahoano, apartment manager, today complained about the heavy-handed search. She said officers threatened a maintenance worker with arrest if he did not open Peters' unit. Kahoano said she has filed a complaint with the police, as well as with the attorney general's office, over the search.
The warrant was issued by the state attorney general's office, which is investigating Peters and fellow trustees.
Bishop Estate Archive
Bronsters office to
probe estate, campaign funds
The office will also probe financeBy Rick Daysog
charges against Holt and Ige
Citing a pattern of apparent criminal conduct, the state Campaign Spending Commission has voted to refer its investigation into alleged illegal campaign contributions involving the Bishop Estate and its vendors to the state attorney general's office.
Members of the commission's board voted 4-0 yesterday to refer the charges that the estate, employees Namlyn Snow and Yukio Takemoto, and several of its vendors violated state campaign finance laws.
The commission, by 5-0 vote, also referred to the attorney general's office charges that former state Sen. Milton Holt and Sen. Marshall Ige violated campaign spending laws.
Holt, a Bishop Estate employee, and Ige, a longtime friend of Bishop Estate trustee Henry Peters, were the recipients of alleged illegal campaign contributions from the estate's vendors, the commission said.
"There is a pattern of what appears to be criminal conduct here," said Brian Nakamura, staff attorney for the commission. "The vendors of (Bishop Estate) have strings that run through this pattern."
The vendors named by the commission included the engineering and architecture firms of Kajioka Yamachi Architects Inc., Ronald N.S. Ho & Associates, Okita Kunimitsu & Associates, Sato & Associates Inc. and Akinaka & Associates Ltd. Their work for the estate was awarded on a nonbid basis.
The commission said the alleged criminal violations originally were raised by the attorney general's office in its yearlong investigation of the estate's trustees.
Under the scheme, estate employee Snow directed the Kajioka, Ho and Sato firms to pay a $12,334.44 debt owed by Holt's unsuccessful 1996 re-election campaign, the commission said. The campaign debt was owed to a local printer, Ryan's Graphics Inc.
A separate, $18,690.72 debt owed by the Holt campaign to the Star Seigle McCombs Inc. advertising firm was paid for by Ryan's Graphics, which was reimbursed by the Kajioka, Akinaka and Okita firms, the state said. The payments were directed by Snow and Takemoto, the estate's budget director, the commission said.
In the case of Ige, the Kajioka firm paid for an $18,262.71 campaign debt, the commission said.
The commission argued that the vendors, Holt and Ige did not report the campaign contributions and that they exceeded a $4,000 contribution limit. The vendors also may have given contributions under a false name.
Attorneys for the vendors denied that their clients violated state campaign laws, and lawyers for Snow and Takemoto also denied wrongdoing.
Lex Smith, attorney for the Kajioka firm, said the complaint should be dismissed due to lack of evidence since much of the case is based on the attorney general's investigation, which is independent of the commission's inquiry.
William McCorriston, Bishop Estate's attorney, called the commission's decisions "disgraceful."
McCorriston denied that the estate paid for campaign contributions and argued that the commission's complaint should have been dismissed on jurisdictional grounds. The commission can refer criminal charges to a prosecutor only if the allegations involve an individual.
In cases involving a corporation or an organization such as the Bishop Estate, the commission doesn't have the authority to refer the charges, McCorriston said.
"The staff of the Campaign Spending Commission acted as an arm of the attorney general's office," McCorriston said.
McCorriston would not answer questions as to whether the campaign spending violations alleged by the commission would violate federal tax laws.
Nonprofit charities such as the Bishop Estate are forbidden from contributing to a political campaign or endorsing candidates.
Bishop Estate Archive