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Tuesday, October 17, 2000

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Dickie Wong, left, talks with former fellow trustee
Henry Peters, center, at the courthouse building today.

Ex-trustee Wong
loses bid to head off
a perjury trial

A judge says the settling
of the civil suit does not
erase the criminal charges

By Rick Daysog

A state judge today rejected legal challenges by former Kamehameha Schools trustee Richard "Dickie" Wong, paving the way for a January trial over perjury charges.

Circuit Judge Michael Town ruled that the attorney general's office did not have a conflict of interest in bringing separate civil and criminal actions against the former trustee and did not misuse the criminal process to improperly boost its civil suit to remove and recover millions of dollars from Wong.

Town also said that a recent agreement settling the state's civil suit does not exonerate Wong of the criminal charges, noting that the state had probable cause to proceed with the perjury charges.

"This court does not find that the (criminal) claims were used to bolster the civil investigation," Town said.

Wong was indicted by an Oahu grand jury last December on two counts of perjury after he testified about a Kamehameha Schools land deal in Hawaii Kai involving his former brother-in-law, Jeffrey Stone. Stone also was indicted for perjury.

Wong previously was indicted by a separate grand jury for theft, conspiracy and perjury for his alleged role in the same Hawaii Kai land deal, but those indictments were thrown out by Town last year.

If convicted on the perjury charges, Wong and Stone face up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000 for each count. Trial was scheduled for the week of Nov. 6, but Town said it likely will be rescheduled for early January.

Wong, who has pleaded not guilty to the perjury charges, had no comment on today's ruling. His attorney, Eric Seitz, said Town still has some "serious questions" about the state's case, even in rejecting arguments that the attorney general's office misused its powers.

Seitz and John Edmunds, Stone's lawyer, previously argued that private investigators for the state offered improper opinions that tainted the grand jury's deliberations.

Town did not rule on whether investigators engaged in misconduct in their testimony before the grand jury. Town has asked both sides to provide further arguments and may rule on that issue Nov. 1.

"We're not afraid of going to trial because, as far as we are concerned, there was no perjury," Seitz said.

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