Lonnie Kocontes' Love Boat

The Irvine lawyer escaped charges he murdered his ex-wife. Then another ex-wife and a friend turned on him

In the wake of that OCDA-orchestrated meeting, Nguyen discovered she possessed previously unaired details about the murder as well as newfound enthusiasm for Kocontes' guilt. She agreed to testify for the government in exchange for immunity and sought guarantees the public would never learn details of her life. In June 2013, Nguyen's latest version of the truth secured her ex-husband's state indictment for the six-year-old killing of her competitor.

*     *     *

Though prosecutors believe Kocontes sinisterly arranged the cruise trip as a backdrop for Kanesaki's murder, the idea of taking the late-May 2006 vacation wasn't his. Bill Price, the PI, made the recommendation. His motive wasn't murder; it was reconciliation.

Kocontes
Cameron K. Lewis
Kocontes
Kanesaki
Cameron K. Lewis
Kanesaki

Kocontes and Kanesaki got married in 1995, when they both worked at the Los Angeles law firm O'Melveny & Myers. She was an administrative assistant, and he served as an attorney for corporate clients such as Land Rover North America Inc. In 2001, after moving to Orange County, the couple divorced, but still maintained a shared, if volatile, life together inside a $750,000 Maybeck Lane home in Ladera Ranch.

Price thought a 2006 cruise might ease tensions for the couple. At the time, Kanesaki, who'd quit her $40,000-per-year job, received several thousand dollars each month in state disability checks for arthritic fingers. Photographs depict a sweet woman, but, as reflected in several police contacts, she used booze to fuel angry outbursts against Kocontes, a workaholic who rarely drank. Their divorce occurred after she learned he'd been arrested in Pasadena for allegedly having sex in a motel with a 15-year-old Asian girl parading as an adult. According to Price, Kanasaki's resentment never subsided even though cops dropped the charges after determining the girl operated a fake-victim scam that also ensnared a police officer.

"It was [Kanesaki's] determination to make him miserable [about the incident]," Price told the FBI in July 2006. "She wasn't going to let that go to save her life. And he kept saying, 'I'm innocent.' Um, it was an ongoing battle that she couldn't get past. So when she drank, when she had her glass of wine, you can rest assured that was the first thing that was going to pop up."

In mid-2005, the resentment worsened when the attorney moved out, married Nguyen, bought his new wife a $1 million Orange County home as well as a new Lexus S330, and paid off her $17,000 credit-card debt. About two months into that marriage, Kocontes came home from work one night and smelled an unfamiliar men's cologne on their bed sheets. Nguyen, who'd met Kocontes in about 2003 on MatchDoctor.com, admitted to the federal grand jury she saw an ex-boyfriend in a strip mall parking lot and decided to have "revenge" sex with him because she assumed without proof that Kocontes had been sleeping with a legal assistant. The attorney moved out, relocated back to Ladera Ranch with Kanesaki and, after a less-than-three-month marriage, filed for divorce from the near-penniless Nguyen, who labeled him "cheap" for not letting her keep the home he bought for them.

In the wake of that fiasco, Kocontes—who consistently earned more than $100,000 annually—and Kanesaki tried to repair their relationship. They began attending counseling sessions and named each other the sole beneficiary in December 2005 wills. However, frictions remained.

In his initial FBI interview, Largo, Florida-based PI Price recalled numerous times in late 2005 and early 2006 when a frustrated Kocontes called. During some of these conversations, he heard Kanesaki screaming and breaking household items in the background. The PI called her a "mean" drunk, but a person "Lonnie cared about."

Susan McQueen—Price's girlfriend and also a PI who met Kocontes on the job and respected his skills—told the FBI that Kanesaki "became nasty and embarrassing" when she drank. McQueen decided to forgo future rendezvous after a few dinner dates with the couple. She also remembered an alarming phone conversation with the attorney. "She's flying off the deep end," McQueen recalled Kocontes saying. "She's throwing and breaking a lot of things." Another time, Kocontes called because Kanesaki was on one of "her tangents," had "thrown, like, a computer out the window," and "broke other things and had thrown some things" at him. "I think he thought he needed stitches," McQueen told the FBI agent.

In January 2006, Price spoke on the phone with Kanesaki, who'd been calling Kocontes "every name in the book." That same month, police arrested her for committing domestic violence against the attorney. A judge ordered Kanesaki to enroll in anger-management classes and attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. She might have needed additional therapy had she known Nguyen's sex life with Kocontes hadn't ended.

To relax Kanesaki, Price suggested she go on a trip with Kocontes to her native Japan, but she didn't want to travel there. Next, he recommended what he and McQueen did to relax: a Mediterranean cruise. She replied she didn't think Kocontes would spend the money. Not only did the attorney agree to go, but he also invited Price and McQueen to join them. The Florida couple declined.

*     *     *

Built with $100 million in France in 1981, the present-day MS Island Escape began its existence as the world's largest car/cargo ferry under a different name. In 1991, the owners converted her into a 623-foot cruiser with 768 cabins at the San Diego shipyards. Though there are three restaurants, six bars, a cyber-café, a theater, a spa, several shops, a salon, a pool and a casino, the boat is marketed to travelers as a "cheap and cheerful," three-star voyage to various Mediterranean ports. Advertisements for the operation used a song with the lyrics "We're going bananas!"

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16 comments
18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

"Deputy DA Price, a 2014 police-union-backed candidate for the Long Beach City Council"

That will be fun. I can verbally shit on Price and Long Beach police Chief Jim McDonnell at LB city council meetings. This is the asshole Chief that thought it was funny to almost cause a traffic accident when me and my wife were in Long Beach celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary. I wonder if this idiot questioned his white female cop yet?

sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776

hey

oc


your login has a problem 


I havent been able to log in via yahoo for some time now

949girl
949girl topcommenter

I always think men that exclusively date Asian women are a little off.  I can't put my finger on it but there is something odd about a white man only dating Asian women.

949girl
949girl topcommenter

Great article.  What prompted you to write this article now?  Is it going to trial soon?    I almost forgot about this case.  I'm curious, why is this crime being prosecuted in Orange County when the murder took place in Europe?  Is it because it was planned in Orange County?  I can't see the jury believing Nguyen since she's lied so many times. I think this will be one of those cases that will get a hung jury or a not guilty verdict.  But he probably did do it if I had to take a guess.    

jimgilchrist
jimgilchrist

@18usc241  As usual, your comments are not too bright.  Keep posting and you will surely have every reader siding with the cops, which is the most rational thing to do.


Sounds to me like you and your wife were driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.  Not surprising for abusive derelicts of society to always blame someone else for the accidents they cause.  You and your old lady really should get some help from a substance abuse counselor, or simply a psychiatrist, whichever applies.  Hmmm…maybe both?


You two are cry-babies.


Jim Gilchrist, Founder and President, The Minuteman Project

ananemous
ananemous

@949girl  What does that have to do with this article? Kocontes is Asian. Can he exclusively date Asian women?


Whophantom
Whophantom

Because they luv them long time...LOL

rscottmoxley
rscottmoxley topcommenter

@949girl  Thank you for your question. I have followed this investigation from the outset, observed the FBi's failure to win an indictment and, when Orange County prosecutors took the Mediterranean Sea murder case, wondered about the strength of what they claimed were new, case-solving facts. An exploration of those alleged "facts" resulted in this news article.

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

Oh hi genius! Thanks for the good laugh. You obviously don't know who you are talking to. I'm the last Latino American man your collection of law enforcement morons should have screwed with in Orange County.

By the way, your pals in OC law (otherwise known as the poor man's version of Donald Sterling) would know if I'm a drunkard or druggie since they flushed millions of taxpayer dollars playing racist hate crime games with me since Stan Knee and Brad Gates. Why don't you ask them?

By the way, so classy of you to bring my wife into the discussion.

And LBPD + Chief are still just following orders monkeys. No change since last comment.

949girl
949girl topcommenter

@sweetliberty17761776 @949girlNot even.  Just my opinion that guy's who exclusively date Asian women are strange.  Maybe I struck a nerve with you.  lol

ted.mendez
ted.mendez

@rscottmoxley @949girlNice reply, Moxley. And very interesting story. Seems like it's going to be hard for a jury to believe the "star witness" or that calculating PI. I can see Nguyen being shredded on cross-examination. Nonetheless, very strange goings on in this one.

949girl
949girl topcommenter

@sweetliberty17761776 @949girlIt's not racism to think white men who only date Asian women are weird.  It's an opinion.  My opinion is is that white guys who only date asians are strange. 

949girl
949girl topcommenter

@whateveryousay @949girl@sweetliberty17761776Thank you @whateveryousay.  It wasn't coming from a racist place.  The defendant has 3 women mentioned in this article that are Asian (Japanese, Vietnamese and Thai) so maybe I'm jumping to conclusions when i say he exclusively dates asians but I don't think I'm wrong based on his pattern.  I know a few people through work or mutual friends or even a couple of aquaintances who have an older white dad and broken english speaking Filipino mom.  Every relationship that involves an older white guy and an Asian woman who doesn't speak English that well are just weird...period.  Even the children of these couples have said that their family life was strange. 

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

@949girl @sweetliberty17761776  949 is spot on.  I have a friend from long ago that is an Asian only dating guy.  Even before I knew that I thought something was up with him.  He's not evil, just off.  

He calls it Yellow-Fever.


 
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