Friday, January 19, 2001
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Posted on: Friday, January 19, 2001

Perfect Title co-founder wins deferred acceptance of plea

By William Cole
Advertiser Courts Writer

The co-founder of a title company that challenged Hawaii land ownership rights pleaded no contest this week to failing to file a 1996 general excise tax return.

But Perfect Title Co. president Donald A. Lewis, 65, was granted a chance by Circuit Judge Sandra Simms to have the criminal case dismissed if he performs 50 hours of community service.

The judge granted his request to defer the acceptance of Lewis’ plea.

Additionally, the company, which based the challenge on Hawaii law before the 1893 overthrow of the monarchy, pleaded no contest for failing to secure a general excise tax license to do business in the state.

Lewis told Simms state tax laws were not followed because Perfect Title adhered to Hawaii Kingdom law, said Stephen Hironaka, a supervisory criminal tax investigator with the Department of Taxation.

"While the Hawaii Kingdom may be an issue," Hironaka said, "he can’t circumvent state laws while it’s determined whether (the kingdom) is recognized as an entity."

Simms fined Perfect Title, which is no longer doing business, $25,000 for failing to secure an excise tax license. Of that, $21,000 was suspended, and the remaining $4,000 will be paid from monies seized by the Honolulu Police Department in a search of the company.

Police and state officials raided Perfect Title’s offices in 1997. The company closed in 1999. On the basis of the company’s research, some homeowners stopped paying mortgages. Lewis in 1999 was acquitted of a an attempted theft charge relating to Perfect Title’s practices.

Lewis could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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