Wednesday, June 30, 1999

Late developer’s
third wife suing trust
over dream house

By Debra Barayuga


The couple was building a dream house on Kohala Ranch property on the Big Island when a boating accident put their plans on hold.

More than a year after his death, Kiana E. Gentry, third wife of the late Thomas H. Gentry, head of one of the biggest residential development companies in Hawaii, wants the dream home completed.

Kiana Gentry yesterday filed suit in Circuit Court alleging that trustees of her husband's revocable trust aren't living up to the couple's prenuptial agreement dated March 1988.

The couple married in April 1988. Tom Gentry lapsed into a coma in November 1994 after his powerboat flipped during the Key West World Offshore Championship race in Florida and before the dream home was completed. He was removed from life support four years later and died Jan. 15, 1998.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are son Norman Hal Gentry from Tom Gentry's first marriage; Mark L. Vorsatz, personal representative and successor co-trustee of the Thomas H. Gentry Revocable Trust; and co-trustee First Hawaiian Bank.

Besides completion of the Kohala Ranch dream home, Kiana Gentry seeks unspecified damages and an order preventing the sale of and her eviction from her current Judd Hillside home.

The 11-count lawsuit alleges that the defendants breached fiduciary duties by mismanaging trust assets, refusing to complete construction of the dream home, planning to evict her from the Judd Hillside home the trust purchased for her after she moved out of Tom Gentry's Waialae Iki home, limiting her monthly support, favoring the interests of other trust beneficiaries, and selling or disposing of personal items she owned and withholding the proceeds.

The defendants spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep Tom Gentry alive knowing he was brain dead and would never recover, the suit alleges. They did so for the purposes of continuing Norman Gentry's power of attorney over his father's assets and "to loot the assets of the estate for their own gain."

Attorneys for at least one of the defendants said they are disappointed but not surprised to hear of Kiana Gentry's suit.

"There have been ongoing discussions relating to her request for support," said Carroll Taylor, attorney for Vorsatz, an attorney and certified public accountant for Arthur Andersen of San Francisco. "The duty of the trustee is to treat all beneficiaries fairly which means sometimes making them equally unhappy."

Vorsatz, a friend and adviser to Tom Gentry for more than a decade, was personally selected by him to be trustee knowing there was going to be tensions among the beneficiaries, Taylor said.

"Mr. Vorsatz is doing his very best to live up to that trust and confidence and is obviously sorry that at least one beneficiary thinks he's fallen short," Taylor said.

Tom Gentry's six other children from two other marriages also are named as trust beneficiaries. They have not taken action against the trust.

Neither Norman Gentry nor his attorney could be reached for comment.

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