Convicted Felon On Trial For Murder Registered Florida Voter
Cruise Ship Overboards Suicides
Cruise Ship Deaths Murders
Missing Passengers Crew
Cruise Ship Listing Sinking
Cruise Groundings Collisions
Cruise Fires Explosions Pirates
Twice Convicted Drug Trafficking Felon, California Attorney, On Trial For Murder, Registered Florida Voter
Cruise Bruise Investigates - The Micki Kanesaki Cruise Ship Murder
Innocent Until Proven Guilty: The FBI was unable to present enough factual evidence to get a conviction against Lonnie Loren Kocontes in the May 26, 2006 cruise ship murder case of his ex-wife Micki Kanesaki. What the FBI did know, was all the information you see presented below. That information includes more than 150 pages of supporting, public documents we attained online, which are found in the links below.
Everything the FBI found, told them Lonnie Loren Kocontes was guilty, but proving it in a court of law proved to be too much of an obstacle to get a conviction. The federal government lost their case and it looked like Lonnie Kocontes could go on with his life, after Micki Kanesaki. But, there was a loop hole, one California exploited, as they tried to finally get justice for Micki Kanesaki.
With California now in a U.S government/State of California tag team assault to find the truth about what happened to Micki Kanesaki, it's been a game changer. Lonnie Kocontes is on the ropes, but can he get to round 10 and win his legal match? So much time as passed, that the evidence against Kocontes has filled the kitchen sink. The prosecutors keep finding things which might stick, including the kitchen sink. The list of evidence, includes a growing list of character (or lack thereof) assassinations which may accumulate enough legal energy to slam Kocontes to the mat in a knock-out blow. This case has had more twists and turns in the past ten and half years than any case Cruise Bruise has followed in the past 11 years.
According to court documents, "Lonnie Loren Kocontes and Micki Kanesaki were married in 1995 after meeting in a legal office where they both were employed. [shortly after Kocontes was admitted to the California Bar] The coupled divorced in 2001, shortly after Kocontes was charged with having sexual contact with a minor. The divorce was allegedly obtained in order to protect certain assets from potential civil litigation against Kocontes, and Kocontes and Kanesaki continued to live together as a couple.
Nevertheless, their relationship deteriorated and on several occasions, local law enforcement officers were called to the couple's residence due to altercations in which Kanesaki allegedly became physically abusive towards Kocontes. One of the incidents resulted in Kanesaki being arrested and charged with corporal injury and battery upon Kocontes. Kanesaki eventually attended a court-ordered domestic violence program, in which Kocontes participated.
The couple then separated in 2005. In July 2005, Kocontes married Amy Dao Nguyen, a Riverside educator. They bought a home in Orange, but two months later, Kocontes filed for divorce. There were reports which said that Kocontes wanted to sell the Ladera Ranch home he owned with Kanesaki, but she would not cooperate. Nguyen now says her marriage to Kocontes, turned into a quick divorce as part of plan to murder Kanesaki, use the money from the sell of her assets to fund a new life with Nguyen, after the coast was clear.
In the fall of 2005, shortly after Kocontes and Nguyen divorced, Kocontes and Kanesaki reconciled and renewed their relationship. In January 2006, Kanesaki was again arrested for alleged battery upon Kocontes.
Kocontes says he and Kanesaki decided to renew their relationship with a Mediterranean cruise. Kanesaki and Kocontes went from their Ladera Ranch, California home, to Los Angeles International Airport to London and Spain. They boarded the cruise ship Island Escape on May 23, 2006 and occupied balcony cabin 9579.
On May 25, the couple took an excursion tour in Messina, Italy. Everything appeared normal, but nothing actually was normal. In the wee hours of May 26, Kocontes says he woke up to find Kanesaki missing and has no idea what happened to her. When the ship called at Naples, Kocontes flew back to the USA, without telling the local police who had opened an investigation in Kanesaki disappearance. Back in the USA, Kocontes calls Nguyen, and goes to her home. She says they had "comfort sex", because he was distraught. Though, initially she told investigators he slept on the sofa.
On May 28, about 20 miles off the coast of Vibo Valentia, a boat crew discovered Kanesaki decomposing body floating in the sea, dressed in a blue T-shirt and light-green pajama pants.
The FBI claimed the 5'4" tall, Orange County, California attorney battered, strangled, then threw his tiny ex-wife off their cruise ship balcony in the middle of the night for monetary gain.
Court documents elaborate on Kanesaki's death saying, that "on May 23, 2006, Micki Kanesaki and Lonnie Loren Kocontes boarded the cruise ship in Spain. On the evening of May 25, 2006, as the ship traveled towards Naples. Kocontes and Kanesaki went to dinner and ordered a bottle of wine. They each drank one glass of wine with dinner, and took the rest of the bottle with them when they finished dinner.
They stopped at the ship's casino and then went to a theater show. They returned to their cabin shortly before midnight, where they finished the bottle of w1ne, each having about one glass each.
Kocontes took Ambien, a sleeping pill. In a declaration submitted with Claimants' motion for summary judgment ("Kocontes Decl."), Kocontes states that he recalls Kanesaki saying that she was stepping out to get a cup of tea sometime between midnight and 1:00 a.m. He claims this was the last time he saw her alive, and that at about 4:30 a.m. on May 26, 2006, he awoke to discover that Kanesaki's bed had not been slept in."
An autopsy was performed in Italy on June 7, 2006, by Dr. Pietrantonio Ricci. Dr. Ricci came to the conclusion that Kanesaki died by strangulation in a homicidal assault. The autopsy found bruises on both arms and her right thigh "due to intense grabbing maneuvers," as well as hemorrhaging in the soft tissues and muscles of her neck. Micki Kanesaki had been murdered, but not sexually assaulted.
The Federal Case
The FBI began an investigation into Kanesaki's death, and among other things, conducted two interviews of Kocontes. A federal grand jury investigation was convened in district court in December 2006 for the purpose of investigating Kanesaki's death. No indictment was issued.
The federal government outlined in court documents that:
"as a direct result of Kanesaki's death, Kocontes received a total of between $450,000 and $500,000 from the following sources:
In 2008, Kocontes filed amended federal tax returns and paid additional taxes for the years 2002-2005 to correct several errors. The IRS eventually refunded $14,091.54 as an overpayment in the form of a check dated May 30, 2008, made out to both Kanesaki and Kocontes. Kocontes endorsed the check for both of them in order to deposit the refund."
Court documents further say, "By January 2008, Kocontes had remarried and had created a foreign trust for his new wife, Katherine Kern. Kocontes consolidated most of his liquid assets and wire-transferred them to Belize into the foreign trust. Later that year Kocontes closed the foreign trust account and deposited these funds into his Florida Capital Bank account. On November 6, 2008, the Government seized all of the funds ($1,276,781.61) in the Florida Capital Bank Account. Kocontes fought the case and won. The Government subsequently returned $250,000."
The balance is in continued litigation. The U.S appealed the decision, after California filed murder charges against Kocontes. The money is tied up and neither Kocontes nor Kern can touch the funds, as he sits in jail awaiting trial. The government waits for a possible murder conviction to prove the funds were a direct result of a murder Kocontes committed. The FBI fund seizure case is repeatedly updated, as each murder trial date is further delayed by motions and discovery.
Oddly, only one month after Kanesaki was murdered off the coast of Italy, Kocontes became the lead attorney in a California case, De La Torre v. Fitzgerald. Kocontes replaced another firm on June 23, 2006. But, before the case was closed on April 12, 2007, Kocontes was in living in Florida.
On October 5, 2006, only four and half months after Micki Kanesaki had been murdered on May 26, 2006, Kocontes was living large. A Quit Claim Deed public record shows Kocontes had purchased a $607,000 home in Safety Harbor, Florida. The private, gated community home had 3,349 square feet, 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. Records show the purchase was made "as a single man".
A year later, a Quit Claim Deed public record on December 27, 2007, shows Kocontes changed the deed to Lonnie Kocontes and Katherine Kern who were "man and wife". To this day, the taxes records show, taxes are paid and Kocontes is still listed as an owner with Kern. Katherine Kern, was a young Thai woman he'd met through his sister-in-law, who is also from Thailand.
Lonnie Kocontes Law Issues
On January 3, 2013, Kocontes registered to vote using his Safety Harbor, Florida. address. Florida law states convicted felons are not eligible to registered to vote in the state of Florida. Yet, since he is in jail, but hasn't been convicted for that alleged crime, as a registered voter with no felony convictions since he registered, he could vote absentee by mail in the upcoming primary and general Presidential elections. Unless of course, somebody alerts Florida State to these facts.
Nebraska prison records show Kocontes was convicted for three felonies including drug trafficking and Burglary in 1976 and another drug trafficking charge in 1981. (see article resources below). He spend a total of 6.5 years in prison for two separate arrests which included four felony convictions.
The first conviction in 1976 was in Cheyenne County for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of amphetamine and burglary. He was in prison from July 8, 1976 to June 20, 1979. The second conviction in Lancaster County, Nebraska was for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute for which he got three years in prison. He was in prison from January 22, 1981 to September 18, 1984.
However, when he tried to get a Nebraska State Pardon for those felony crimes so he could be admitted to the Florida Bar, it was denied on June 5, 2008 and he was never admitted to the Florida Bar.
According to the denial for the requested pardon, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning outlined the reasons for the denial. “There are the five felony convictions, there is an open investigation with the FBI, there is an open investigation by the Florida Bar Association, there is an open investigation by the California Bar Association.” Bruning also mentioned the underage girl “who accused you; then you sued her. All that is just too much for me, So I will not be voting in favor of the pardons.”
As referenced in the pardon denial, in 2000, Kocontes was charged with having sex with a minor, but the charges were dropped when the girl refused to testify saying she was too afraid to testify. Kocontes said the charges were false. He later brought a civil suit against the girl and her family. The lawsuit was settled for about $1 million.
Kocontes was denied admission to the Florida Bar, but that didn't keep him from practicing law in Florida. He repeatedly broke traffic laws and represented himself, all while he was under investigation by the FBI for the murder of Micki Kanesaki.
In a continuing disregard for the law, the first traffic offense was for two infractions on November 8, 2007 in Pinellas County Florida. He paid a fine of $120. Then, Kocontes received a parking ticket December 14, 2007 in Pinellas County Florida for parking in no parking zone, which held a $30 fine. He pleaded not-guilty and fought the ticket in court from December 14, 2007 to October 8, 2008. After numerous court actions, on October 8 he was granted a motion for a new hearing. The judgment was vacated, the sentence was vacated and fine and costs were vacated, in effect Kocontes was practicing law, all over a $30 parking ticket.
Then, there was another ticket on February 20, 2008 in Pinellas County for speeding. He paid a fine of $183.50 and enrolled in Defensive Driving School. Yet another speeding ticket on January 24, 2012 in Pinellas County. For that offense he was ordered to complete 40 hours of community service within 90 days and pay a fine of $281.
When Kocontes got another parking ticket on February 2, 2012, he just paid it. Nearly three weeks later, Kocontes' right to practice law in California became "inactive" on February 24, 2012. He was denied admission to the Florida Bar and now he was unable to practice in California. However, the California Bar admission could be reactivated at this time, if he is found not-guilty of his crimes.
Lonnie Kocontes Legal Battles
February 5, 2008, Kocontes file a court case for Tampa-area resident Edward Bujanowski who hired Kocontes to represent him in a civil action for a $25,000 cash deposit and a 30 percent contingency fee.
Because he did not have a Florida bar license, Kocontes asked a judge to allow him to use his California bar membership to work on the Bujanowski case pro hac vice with a special exemption.
A judge approved the request in October 2007, but he revoked it two months later, after lawyers for the defendant discovered Kocontes had been sent to prison in Nebraska in the 1970s, according to court records.
Edward Bujanowski requested the return of his full deposit and ended up suing Kocontes, who was willing to refund only $5,000. He claimed his private investigator Susan McQueen had already billed $20,000 in the matter. As of April 8, 2014, Bujanowski was still trying to get his money, suing Kocontes at his address at Theo Lacy Facility Jail.
August 14, 2009, Lonnie L. Kocontes filed a lawsuit for libel against Edward T. Bujanowski and his attorney Sean Keith McQuaid, after they submitted a letter to the Nebraska Board of Pardons discouraging it from granting Kocontes’ pardon application, related to their dealings with him as a lawyer in the February 5, 2008 case in Florida.
The court document says, " . . . Kocontes refers to an affidavit submitted in support of his request. But the only indication of other communications in the affidavit is the following: at the hearing I attended before the Nebraska Pardons Board in march 2008, the Nebraska attorney General commented that he would be speaking to . . . mcquaid about me, apparently at . . . mcquaid’s request. We find no reason why such a communication would not also be covered by the privilege. although not written, it clearly involves communications with the Board of Pardons relevant to its ongoing proceedings. The district court apparently concluded the same. The party asserting error in a discovery ruling bears the burden of showing that the ruling was an abuse of discretion. We find no abuse of discretion in this case."
July 7, 2014, while still in Theo Lacy Facility jail, Kocontes and Kerns are added as claimants to a Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit (SEC), Securities and Exchange Commission vs. Callahan. The SEC vs. Callahan lawsuit had been ongoing since March 5, 2012. The SEC complaint states that from 2005 to January 2012, Callahan Funds raised at least $74.9 million from 24 investors for at least five off shore accounts and defrauded those investors.
The case is ongoing, yet to be settled. If there is a win-fall in this case for Kocontes, it may get tied up for a very long time. If convicted for the murder of Micki Kanesaki, her family estate could sue Kocontes for her wrongful death and tie up any money headed his way for years to come.
Federal Government Tag Teams California
November 20, 2012, the court order a summary judgment in the appeal of the U.S. government case Kocontes to seize the over one million dollars in the Capital Bank account. It would seem the government had lost all it's cases against Kocontes. But, the U.S. appealed months later, after the State of California charged Kocontes with the Kanesaki murder.
February 14, 2013, the tide had changed again, with Kocontes being arrested by the Pasco Sheriff's office, held to stand trial in California for the murder of Micki Kanesaki. Kocontes arrived at Theo Lacy Facility Jail in Orange County, California on March 7, 2013.
Orange County prosecutors, said there was newly discovered evidence and filed a complaint in 2013 charging murder for financial gain. A California judge, Superior Court Judge William Evans dismissed the case, ruling that the Orange County District Attorney had no right to take this case to trial, as California doesn't have jurisdiction in the case. The ruling set Lonnie Kocontes free.
Immediately after the ruling, the Orange County District Attorney filed new charges, holding Kocontes in jail without bail. In opposing the defense motion to dismiss for lack of territorial jurisdiction, they asserted that the victim resided in California, the murder was planned in California, the cruise was booked while in California, the couple flew from a California airport to meet the cruise ship in Europe.
Superior Court Judge William Evans ruled the case could be tried in California as the law doesn't cover just cases that took place in California, but covers those cases involving California residents. A new court date of June 17, 2013 was set.
Theo Lacy Facility Jail inmate records identify Kocontes employment as "entertainer" instead of lawyer. Perhaps hiding this true employment as a lawyer, was a feeble attempt to hide from the California Bar and potentially getting disbarred.
April 16,2013, the U.S. once again got a win with a court order (USA v.$1,026,781.61 In Funds From Florida Capital Bank) allowing them to continue holding Kocontes' nearly one million dollars they had seized, pending the outcome of the California trial.
August 2014, Orange County Superior Court Judge James Stotler rejects a motion to dismiss an indictment against Lonnie Loren Kocontes, after his attorney had alleged prosecutorial misconduct with evidence being withheld from the grand jury which indicted Lonnie Loren Kocontes a year prior.
Lonnie Kocontes Murder For Hire Case
Authorities investigating Kanesaki’s death had Kocontes' his new wife, Amy Dao Nguyen, who he married in Nevada, testify before an Orange County grand jury, which helped to hinder the case against Kocontes. But her story changed when she testified for investigators again in 2013. Nguyen allegedly told investigators Kocontes coached her in what to say before her grand jury testimony and told her to lie.
Nguyen alleged that she knew Kocontes was going to kill Kanesaki, he told her before they left on the cruise, but she didn't alert authorities. She was given immunity from prosecution, because she lied to the grand jury and said knew of the murder plot but, did not alert anyone. Soon after, Kocontes was arrested in Florida and held for extradition to California.
May 2015, While still in jail, Kocontes allegedly drafted a letter in which his wife stated that her 2006 testimony was accurate and that she was forced to lie in 2013. Then, according to prosecutors, Kocontes hired two inmates to take the letter to Nguyen, have her sign it, then kill her. One of the two inmates told his lawyer about the alleged plot and new charges were filed. Kocontes now faces two counts of solicitation to commit murder and one count of solicitation to bribe a witness. Kocontes says he was set up.
The California Bar had opened an investigation into Kocontes behavior by February 3, 2014. If found guilty of the charges against him, he will be disbarred.
September 9, 2016, Kocontes was due back in California Superior Court.There has been no public reports on the outcome of that appearance.
Cruise Bruise has been following this case for more than ten years. Along the way, Lonnie Kocontes has contacted us numerous times and threatened us. He has stated, in the early days he was not a suspect in the disappearance case of Micki Kanesaki. This claim was eventually proven to be untrue after the finding of her body and cause of death by strangulation became public. He was the only suspect in her murder.
If he is convicted of Micki Kanesaki's murder, her family could petition to gain control of a good portion of the nearly one million dollars he inherited as a result of her murder.
This story is far from being over. Will he vote in the November elections and if he does, who will gain his vote? We will continue to follow this case and update over the years as more details unfold. You will also find the Micki Kanesaki death listed in our Cruise Ship Deaths website.