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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, June 8, 2001

Indictment dismissal mulled for ex-trustee

By David Waite
Advertiser Staff Writer

Circuit Judge Michael Town said yesterday he hopes to rule within a week on a request by former Kamehameha Schools trustee Richard "Dickie" Wong to dismiss his two-count perjury indictment issued in April.

Wong's attorney, Eric Seitz, told Town the perjury charges are virtually the same as those brought against Wong by the state attorney general's office in 1999 and dismissed by Town last year.

The attorney general's office appealed the dismissal to the Hawai'i Supreme Court, which has not yet ruled on the matter, and then obtained a new perjury indictment against Wong from an O'ahu grand jury April 19.

Town, who took the matter under advisement, said that in his 22 years as a judge he never had a situation come up where prosecutors obtained a new indictment against a defendant while the Supreme Court had yet to rule on an appeal brought by the prosecution unhappy that the prior indictment had been dismissed.

Seitz argued yesterday that because the Supreme Court has yet to rule on the state's appeal, Town's court does not have jurisdiction in the matter.

"These guys just won't quit," Seitz said of the attorney general's office. "They have prosecuted (Wong) up the wazoo, one time after another."

Wong and fellow former Kamehameha Schools trustee Henry Peters were indicted on theft charges related to the 1995 sale of the land under the Kalele Kai condominium to developer Jeffrey Stone, Wong's former brother-in-law, but Town dismissed the charges against both men in 1999.

Peters was reindicted on the theft charge and Town threw out the indictment a second time.

After the theft case was dismissed against Wong in early 1999, he was indicted later that year on charges that he had lied to the grand jury about the land deal. Town dismissed that case against Wong in 1999.

Wong was indicted again in April on the perjury allegation based on new evidence, said Deputy Attorney General Law rence Goya.

Goya yesterday accused Seitz of trying to manipulate the court system in hopes of having the latest indictment against Wong dismissed in a manner that would prevent him from being indicted on the same allegation again.

The latest perjury indictment was based on "added evidence presented in both counts" to the grand jury, evidence Goya said consisted of "different things said by Wong" to the grand jury.

"It is not exactly the same testimony as before," Goya said.

If Seitz had requested a transcript of the grand jury proceedings that resulted in the latest perjury indictment, he would have realized other, new evidence was presented, Goya said.

"If were were simply representing the same case as we did before, that would be no good."

Town dismissed the prior perjury indictment against Wong on the grounds that the grand jury "lacked sufficient evidence to charge the specific offense that was being charged," Goya said.

He said the prosecution is using "substantial new evidence" as well as a different theory as to how Wong allegedly perjured himself.

Seitz said he will order a transcript, and if the latest indictment against Wong is based upon essentially the same material as last time, he will seek sanctions against Goya.

Judge Town had asked Seitz and Goya at the start of yesterday's hearing if they might agree to put Wong's trial on the perjury charges "on hold" until the Supreme Court rules on Town's dismissal of the earlier perjury indictment.

Wong is scheduled to go to trial June 25, and Seitz told Town that Wong wanted to exercise his right to a speedy trial.