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Monday, November 20, 2000

Wong perjury
charges dropped

Investigators prejudiced
Wong's right to a fair trial,
Judge Town says

By Rick Daysog

A state judge dismissed perjury charges today against former Kamehameha Schools trustee Richard "Dickie" Wong.

Circuit Judge Michael Town ruled that investigators with the Attorney General's Office provided improper testimony before an Oahu grand jury that prejudiced Wong's right to a fair trial.

Town also dismissed a perjury charge against Wong's former brother-in-law, local developer Jeffrey Stone, saying the case not only relied on prejudicial testimony, but also lacked sufficient evidence.

"The testimony ... constituted, in this court's view, exactly the kind of bolstering that cannot be allowed by state investigators," Town said. "It was inaccurate, conclusory and prejudicial."

Wong, a former president of the state Senate, welcomed Town's decision, saying he was glad the ordeal was over.

"It's been a long 2 1/2 years," said Wong, who resigned as a Kamehameha Schools trustee last year.

"I'm glad that we reached the end of the road and justice has served its purpose."

Eric Seitz, Wong's attorney, said he will seek damages against the state for its pursuit of the former trustee. Seitz previously filed a federal court lawsuit against the Attorney General's Office for malicious prosecution.

Senior Deputy Attorney General Lawrence Goya said he was disappointed by Town's decision but said he would recommend to Attorney General Earl Anzai that the state seek to reindict Wong for perjury.

Wong and Stone were indicted by an Oahu grand jury last December on two counts of perjury after they testified about a 1995 Hawaii Kai land deal involving Kamehameha Schools and a partnership involving Stone.

Wong told the panel that he did not speak to Stone about the deal, which involved the trust's sale of its fee interest in the Kalele Kai condominium project to Stone and his partner, National Housing Corp.

But state investigators Terry Pennington and Steve Goodenow testified that telephone messages taken by Wong's secretary indicated they had spoken about the deal.

In his ruling, Town said the investigators' testimony amounted to opinions that prejudiced Wong's right to a fair and impartial grand jury.

Town previously dismissed a theft charge against Wong and a commercial bribery charge against Stone involving the same Hawaii Kai land deal.

Town ruled then that the state, which alleged that the two had taken part in a kickback scheme, relied on illegally bolstered testimony from Stone's former attorney Richard Frunzi, who was convicted on federal money-laundering charges.

Stone said the indictments had no merit in the first place and that the Kalele Kai deal benefited the trust. He noted that the estate received $25 million on a property that at one time was valued at only $8 million.

"There never was a sweetheart deal; there was no collusion; there was nothing wrong," Stone said. "Mr. Wong and myself did nothing wrong but try to help Kamehameha Schools."

Kamehameha Schools archive

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