Pflueger pleads not guilty


POSTED: Wednesday, January 07, 2009

LIHUE » Retired auto dealer James Pflueger pleaded not guilty yesterday via a video conference in Circuit Court, continuing to deny culpability in the Ka Loko Dam flood that killed seven people in 2006.

;[Preview] Pflueger Pleads Not Guilty In Kaloko Dam Case

He's accused of being reckless in the way he modified the Kaloko reservior, which failed in 2006 after heavy rains, killing seven people downstream.

Watch ]


Pflueger, 82, was on Oahu, still recovering from heart surgery, and was unable to hear many of the questions asked by Circuit Judge Randal Valenciano.

However, the fiery Pflueger said he will be ready for trial, set for June 15, and emphatically answered a number of questions explained by his lawyer, William McCorriston.

His lawyers were also fiery, saying the state is trying to pin the blame on Pflueger to avoid its own culpability in the dam breach.

Pflueger owns the property under the dam and has been accused of filling in an emergency spillway, causing the breach in heavy rains.

“;Jimmy and I look forward to meeting these charges with the evidence that will show that he was not the person responsible for the dam failure,”; McCorriston told reporters after the hearing.

David Minkin, Pflueger's other attorney, said they will also revisit motions to remove Attorney General Mark Bennett from handling the case.

In November, Pflueger's attorneys argued that Bennett had a conflict of interest in the case.

Valenciano said at the hearing in November that the motions to disqualify Bennett were premature, since Pflueger had not been indicted.

Mark Miyahara, state deputy attorney general, would not comment on the case.

In December, Pflueger was indicted by a grand jury on seven counts of manslaughter and one count of reckless endangerment. If convicted, he could face 20 years for each manslaughter charge, and five years for the reckless endangerment count.