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 Nguyen's mind, Price's recording of the last part of their conversation was only for his personal use. But the PI delivered the bombshell recording to the FBI, the same agency to whom he had vouched for Kocontes. Seven years after Kanesaki's killing, Price now recalled ominous-sounding memories he forgot to tell investigators: While researching the fateful vacation, Kocontes asked him about the location of security cameras on cruise ships—none were on the Island Escape—and, after the incident, contemplated moving to a country without an extradition treaty with the U.S.

The FBI gave Price's tape to Rackauckas' office. Nguyen admitted that she'd lied about the night of Kocontes' return from Italy. Yes, he'd been distraught about the death, but he hadn't slept on the sofa. They had what she called "comfort" sex, and he left at sunrise. The tape prompted the OCDA to open its case.

*     *     *

Happier days: Kocontes and Kanesaki
Happier days: Kocontes and Kanesaki
Cameron K. Lewis

Though police-tilting Orange County judges have been known to ignore evidence of law-enforcement officers committing perjury, a citizen lying under oath—especially in a murder case—isn't as likely to be readily pardoned. Perjury is a felony that risks imprisonment for as much as four years. In reality, however, prosecutors don't file charges if a witness flip-flops on prior sworn statements and testifies in alignment with the government's theory of a case.

Despite the ability to overlook undeniable proof of Nguyen's perjury, OCDA couldn't ignore that the Price/McQueen recording presented an obstacle: How could she reasonably explain her contradictory federal grand jury testimony? She'd initially stated she knew nothing about a murder plot, didn't learn about the cruise until afterward and vouched for Kocontes' genuine emotional devastation about the death.

Nowadays, Nguyen blames Kocontes for her lies. She says he repeatedly called her on the telephone before her federal court appearance and coached her to give false answers. That contention placated the OCDA's concerns. However, Michael, Kocontes' attorney along with colleague James A. Bustamante, labeled Nguyen's tale "convoluted." Asks Michael: Does it make sense that a 20-year attorney who theoretically took great care to get away with murder and complained about continual FBI harassment would risk a phone wiretap that would expose him as a murderer who told his ex-wife to perjure herself?

Having offered an excuse for the content of her federal testimony, Nguyen also explained her motivation for lying. She says Kocontes threatened to have her killed if she didn't follow his orders. During a 2013 interview, OCSD homicide investigator Alex Quilantan asked how the attorney delivered his threat. Most people would remember specifics about a death threat, but Nguyen couldn't recall a single detail. She wasn't even positive if the alleged threat happened in person or during a phone call. To Quilantan's attempt for more specificity, she replied, "And he [said] that, yeah, that's why he said don't say anything about it or, or I will have [Bill Price's] people come and kill you and make it look like an accident."

If fear that Price's people would kill her caused her enough concern to lie to a federal grand jury, why had she agreed to meet with Price and McQueen when they confronted her, in person and unannounced, in 2009? After off-the-record discussions, she even allowed them to record her making damning statements against Kocontes. Nguyen now declared her divorce from the attorney had been the result of Kanesaki possessing the never-before-mentioned blackmail document, whose existence, if true, might give the OCDA another motive for murder.

When Nguyen met with the OCDA in February 2013, she informed deputy DA Price, "Everything I know came from [PI Price]." Then, unaware she was already being recorded, Nguyen insisted on making a request off the record: She wanted to erase a portion of her federal testimony seven years earlier.

"I don't know where to start," Nguyen said. "In [federal] court, I said I slept with someone [to cause Kocontes to divorce me]. It's not true."

This self-serving assertion might possess more believability if Price hadn't unequivocally told the FBI in 2006 that he knew the reason Kocontes divorced Nguyen: her infidelity. Or if her original story of her sex-revenge escapade hadn't included a name of a man who is no longer around to challenge her claim. He died in December 2005 at the age of 52.

Despite Nguyen's credibility issues, as well as zero evidence of any mysterious killers, a blackmail document or a burglary at Kanesaki's parents' home, the deputy DA accepted her star witness' latest story without reservation.

"I want you to know, understand, I'm telling you from my heart, I will do whatever I can to protect you," Deputy DA Price assured her. "I don't believe you had anything to do with Micki's death. I don't believe that you killed Micki or that you were involved in killing Micki. I don't believe that at all. But I do believe that you're a witness who has information about the person who killed Micki."

Implying Price's oral immunity assurances weren't sufficient, Nguyen demanded a written deal blocking any charges tied to the murder. The deputy DA complied. "You are not going to be prosecuted for perjuring yourself in 2006," Price said. "However, if you testify in the future and you lie . . . you may be prosecuted for perjury. The most important thing to me is that you tell the truth."

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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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