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Friday, January 19, 2001

By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
Marshall Ige faces TV cameras as he walks through
district court.

Ex-legislator Ige
could face prison terms

Investigators got onto the case
during the probe of Bishop Estate
trustees and their political cronies

By Rick Daysog

In the latest twist to the state's criminal investigation into the Kamehameha Schools former trustees and their political cronies, the attorney general's office has filed new charges against former state Sen. Marshall Ige.

Ige, who was arrested and released on bail yesterday, appeared in court this morning for his arraignment and plea. But District Judge Christopher McKenzie postponed the hearing for two weeks after Ige said he hasn't been able to hire an attorney.

Ige, who lost his Windward Oahu Senate seat last year, said he plans to plead not guilty to all of the counts and declined to comment on specific charges. "As an elected official, I accept being held up to a higher standard," he said. "Unfortunately these things come up."

In its criminal complaint, the state alleged that Ige improperly took $30,000 from an elderly Beverly Hills couple and laundered the proceeds through a businessman.

The state also alleged he improperly took $7,000 from a Windward Oahu farmer in June 1999 after threatening to evict him.

If convicted, Ige faces up to 10 years in prison for the first-degree theft and money laundering charges and up to five years in prison for the tax evasion, extortion and second-degree theft charges.

The new complaint is in addition to campaign finance-related charges faced by Ige. The attorney general's office alleged in July 1999 that Ige failed to report $22,500 in campaign contributions laundered by the trust's outside contractors.

Ige, a longtime associate of former Bishop Estate trustee Henry Peters, has pleaded not guilty to the campaign-related charges, which are misdemeanors. That case was scheduled to go to trial next month but may be delayed.

Senate President Robert Bunda, a former colleague of Ige's, said he was shocked by the new criminal charges. Bunda (D, Wahiawa) called Ige a "tenacious" individual who is a good person at heart.

Ige played an instrumental role in the controversial 1999 confirmation defeat of then-Attorney General Margery Bronster in the Senate.

"I think the Senate needs to move on," Bunda said. "I know it pains the individual but at the same time it pains the Senate. So we need to somehow find some resolvement to this whole matter."

Court documents filed with yesterday's complaint provide an outline of the state's case, which involve two convoluted business transactions. The tax evasion, theft and money laundering charges center on a $30,000 payment in 1998 by a Beverly Hills couple, Rita and Morris Wolfred, according to an affidavit filed by state investigator Paul Sakaida.

Rita Wolfred, 75, and her 80-year-old husband, Morris, told Sakaida Ige promised to expunge a Hawaii criminal conviction against their daughter, Joan Wolfred, for $30,000.

But Ige, who met the Wolfreds through his aunt, was unable to expunge her criminal record and did not return the money to the couple voluntarily, according to Sakaida's affidavit. After repeatedly asking for a refund, the Wolfreds sued Ige, and a California judge ruled in favor of the couple. Ige since has returned about half of the $30,000.

The state alleged that Ige violated state money laundering laws and tried to avoid paying the state general excise tax when he instructed the Wolfreds to send their $30,000 payment to Kaneohe businessman Clayton Hanagami.

Hanagami later transferred all but $4,300 of the money to Ige through a series of payments to a bank account controlled by Ige's wife, Caryn, the affidavit said.

Hanagami, meanwhile, told state investigators that he agreed to hold the Wolfreds' money as a favor. Ige led Hanagami to believe that he was helpful in blocking legislation that would harm Hanagami's Kaneohe Bay boating business, the state said. Hanagami said Ige never told him the reason behind the Wolfreds' payment.

The state's extortion and second-degree theft charges involve a Punaluu property that was leased to the former legislator.

According to Sakaida's affidavit, Ige subleased the parcel to a tenant farmer named Hanh Lam. In 1999, Ige threatened to evict Lam if he didn't didn't pay the advance lease rent, the affidavit said.

At the time, the mainland owner of the property was on the verge of canceling Ige's lease because of late payments, the state said. The state added that Ige could not legally evict Lam since the farmer was current on his lease payments.

Lam told state investigators that he agreed to pay Ige the $7,000 advance because his crops faced ruin if he were evicted. Ige has since refunded some of the $7,000 paid by Lam, the state said.

Star-Bulletin reporter Crystal Kua
contributed to this report

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