Case # 15CF099
Date: May 11, 2015
INMATE AWAITING MURDER TRIAL FACING ADDITIONAL CHARGES FOR SOLICITATION TO COMMIT MURDER AND BRIBING WITNESS
*Defendant was indicted by grand jury in 2013 on charges of special circumstances murder for financial gain
SANTA ANA – A man was charged today for solicitation to commit murder and bribing a witness while in-custody on a charge for murdering his ex-wife for financial gain by strangling her to death and throwing her overboard while on a cruise in Italy. Lonnie Loren Kocontes, 57, Safety Harbor, Fla., was charged today with two felony counts of solicitation to commit murder and one felony count of solicitation to bribe a witness. He was previously charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder for financial gain (Case #13ZF0163). If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 11 years and eight months in state prison for these new charges. He faces a maximum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole for the special circumstances murder charge. Kocontes is scheduled to appear for a court hearing on May 14, 2015, at 1:30 p.m. in Department C-35, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Circumstances of Case #15CF0995
While being held in-custody at the Orange County Jail, Kocontes is accused of drafting a letter for his former wife/witness, Jane Doe (Third Wife), to sign a letter which states that her testimony to the federal grand jury in 2006 was truthful and that her testimony to the Orange County grand jury in 2013 was a lie. Kocontes is accused of including in the letter that Jane Doe was threatened by law enforcement to lie to the Orange County grand jury in 2013.
Between February 2014 and July 2014, while remaining in-custody at the Orange County Jail, Kocontes is accused of soliciting two inmates to have Jane Doe personally sign that letter and then murder her. The defendant is accused of planning to pay a sum of money to the inmates to solicit Jane Doe for her signature and then offering the inmates an additional amount of money if they murdered her.
On April 21, 2014, one of the inmates, through his attorney, reported the crime to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA). The Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) detectives began investigating these new allegations the next day and completed their investigation in November 2014.
Circumstances of Case #13ZF0163
In the early 1990s, Kocontes was working as an attorney for a law firm and met victim Micki Kanesaki (Second Wife), who worked as a paralegal for the same firm. They married in 1995. The couple divorced in 2001, but lived together off and on through 2006.
On May 21, 2006, the defendant is accused of flying with Kanesaki to Spain and boarding a cruise. On May 25, 2006, the couple took a day-time excursion and toured the town of Messina, Italy. The couple returned to the ship and Kanesaki was last seen alive at approximately 11:00 p.m.
Late on the night of May 25, 2006, or early in the morning of May 26, 2006, Kocontes is accused of murdering Kanesaki by strangling her to death and throwing her body overboard into the ocean. He is later accused of reporting her missing.
On the morning of May 27, 2006, Kocontes returned to California, and went directly to the home of his mistress, Jane Doe (the victim in Case #15CF0995). Kanesaki’s body was discovered floating off the coast of Paola, Italy, later that day on the afternoon of May 27, 2006.
Kocontes is accused of financially benefiting from the victim’s murder by being the beneficiary of her estate and receiving the full proceeds from the sale of their home.
In 2008, Kocontes is accused of attempting to move over $1 million between various bank accounts with his new wife, Katherine K. (Fourth Wife). The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who had investigated the death of Kanesaki, began investigating the money transfers for possible illegal activity and the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) ultimately seized the money from Kocontes’ bank accounts. A civil asset forfeiture case was subsequently filed in the US District Court for the Central District of California and is currently pending.
In 2011, USAO discussed the potential criminal case with the OCDA for possible review. In 2012, the OCDA requested assistance for a follow-up investigation on the case from OCSD. OCSD became the lead investigating agency on this case and through their follow-up investigation, discovered additional evidence related to the murder.
The OCDA filed the murder case against Kocontes Feb. 13, 2013. OCSD, US Marshals Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force, and Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department investigators arrested the defendant in Safety Harbor, Fla., on Feb. 15, 2013.
The FBI and OCSD investigated this case. Assistant Head of Court Susan Price of the Appellate and Training Unit and Deputy District Attorney Seton Hunt, both formerly of the Homicide Unit, are prosecuting this case.