Crime in Honolulu and Eric Lighter

Documents about Eric Lighter from a lost archive
December 23rd, 2011 · Business, Court, Crime

It’s amazing what computers can do as an aid to long-term memory.

I managed to find several of my old folders in a backup of a long-gone computer. It’s got files dating back more than 20 years relating to Eric Lighter, convicted this week in San Jose on 17 counts stemming from a complex tax fraud.

A number of documents were archived with an old PaperPort scanner. The original software no longer runs on current Macs, but it turns out GraphicConverter, a wonderful Mac program and handy tool under many circumstances, is able to open them. From there I can print them as pdf’s.

For example, here’s a list of business names registered by Lighter as of March 1999.

And then there’s this gem, a 1987 memo filed in bankruptcy court by Les Iczkovitz, attorney for the Association of Apartment Owners of the Hawaiian Colony Condominium. It describes what may have been the first time Lighter was publicly accused of substantial criminal fraud.

According to the memo, the Hawaiian Colony was built by developer Eugene Despain and his company, Erdesca, Ltd.

During the period from October, 1980, through March, 1984, Despain acted as the Managing agent for the Hawaiian Colony; as the attorney for the Hawaiian Colony AOAO; managed the hotel pool at the Hawaiian Colony, and controlled all of the activities of the Hawaiian Colony Association Board of Directors. In these capacities Despain violated numerous laws and stole thousands of dollars from many people.

Although managing and representing all apartment owners, Despain failed to pay maintenance fees, as required by law. As a result, the AOAO fell deep into debt, and apartment owners faced the threat of having their electricity and as turned off due to large unpaid bills, the memo alleges.

By late 1984, Despain had bailed out and Lighter took over all remaining interests in the property, apparently without putting up any money of his own, according to the memo. Lighter also failed to pay maintenance fees and other amounts owed to owners, including those who sold their units and were due the proceeds, the memo alleges. In an attempt to block the foreclosure, Lighter transferred legal titles through a series of shell companies and shills.

He also attacked everyone else with allegations of corruption, including Iczkovitz and other attorneys involved in the case on behalf of a variety of clients. One of those who was targeted by Lighter’s wild claims was David Ezra, now a senior federal judge, who as I recall represented First Hawaiian Credit Corp. in the Hawaiian Colony case.

In the process of creating and transferring paper “rights” to the Hawaiian Colony, Lighter claimed to have separated the “air rights” from the rest of the property. Although those claimed “air rights” were declared worthless in subsequent court proceedings, Lighter continued to use them as a supposed “asset” that he used as collateral in many other questionable transactions. These are the same “air rights” that were referenced in the criminal indictment leading to his conviction this week.

The memo concludes with some questions that remain relevant today.

The Time-Share Operation is no longer in business, but no action has yet been taken against Eric Lighter for his illegal conversion of funds. The question remains why hasn’t the State or the Federal authorities done anything with regard to Eric Lighter so as to protect the time-share owners? The ultimate question is why isn’t Eric Lighter in jail? As a side question, why does Eric Lighter still have his real estate broker’s license?

The War Years Remembered

Digging further back…In December 1942, University of Hawaii Professor Carey D. Miller sent a 6-page letter to friends with a month-by-month account of what it had been like in Honolulu after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the US entry into WWII.

For example, December 1941:
“Christmas comes and goes, dinner parties are called off and many work all day long. Each night we gather in our little blackout room and listen anxiously to the war news.”
And from December 1942:
December 1942: “Haru, my 64 year old masseur, who for almost 20 years has rubbed the cricks out of my tired shoulders and soothed my headaches with her strong and supple fingers has expressed the feelings of many of us when she says, ‘I tink God verry sorry see his children fight. Erry morning I say, Aloha God, please, war pau.’ “
Read Miller’s 1942 letter here.

Miller wrote another Christmas letter to friends in December 1944. In it, she expressed thanks for a number of things, and her list tells you an awful lot about the times.

• “…a good job and sufficient health and energy to carry on.”

• “…a comfortable home of our own. The housing situation is so acute in Honolulu that we feel almost guilty to have a spare room, even though it is frequently used by newcomers and visitors.”

• “…space to raise most of our own fruits and vegetables which give us a better diet and means jut that much less food to be shipped in.”

• “…the (household) help that we have….A girl from one of the other Islands who is attending business school is with us for the second year. She prepares the evening meal and washes the dishes. Her repertoire is limited, but she really does very well.”

• “And we have a yard man!”

• “…it has not been necessary to restore the black out. We can now turn on any kind of lights anywhere, any time! (Except, of course, during an air raid alarm).”

• “…I am thankful for good musical programs whether from regular records or rebroadcasts of such programs as the N.B.C. symphony concerts.”

• “…the event which will evoke the greatest thankfulness will be the end of the war.”

And so it goes on this Christmas morning 67 years later.


Cash Deposit Bail a Classic Air Sandwich

When I think about 10% deposit bail and I think about it often, I keep thinking how it’s a Rubik’s cube of logic that proponents use to justify its use to guarantee a criminal defendant’s appearance in court. Deposit bail (posting 10% of the bond in cash with the court with the remaining 90% unsecured) is really nothing more than an air sandwich being fed to the general public. A vacuous guarantee provided by the criminal offender himself, providing zero sustenance to victims and taxpaying citizens or the criminal justice system. Penn State assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky recently released on a 100% unsecured bond, not even a partial cash deposit; that was an air sandwich with cheese.


In our effort to prove the Air Sandwich Theory we have initiated an effort to gather information from counties throughout Indiana who have, for years, used deposit bail to the exclusion of all other forms of release, including and in particular, commercial bail bonds. Our request for listings of failure to appear warrants and an accounting of cash bail deposits have met with some resistance.


Some counties have been cooperative in responding to our Freedom of Information Act requests (FOIA) while St. Joseph County (South Bend), a county who has exclusively used deposit bail for decades has been less than forthcoming with details. One would think a county utilizing one system of bail exclusively for forty years would have perfected their process over time. Apparently, that is not the case.


According to South Bend has a crime index of 4 making the home of Notre Dame University safer than just 4% of the cities in the US. Residents of South Bend have a 1 in 131 chance of being a victim of a violent crime and 1 in 15 chance of being a victim of a property crime. According to the 2004 FBI Crime Report, the overall crime index in South Bend at that time was worse than the national average in every category. It would appear little progress has been made in the years since.


I recently wrote to and spoke with the St. Joseph County Clerk. I was told they had no way of knowing, at any given time, how much money was being held in trust for cash bail deposits and her office could not provide and did not have a detailed listing of criminal defendants who currently had bail money on deposit. She went on to tell me they were using antiquated systems and the only way to know if a defendant had cash bail on deposit was to do a manual search using their public access computer.


One has to ask the question, if you don’t know how much money is supposed to be in the cash bail trust account how do you know if the account balance is accurate? Who is responsible for reconciling this account? Who is responsible for these funds?


The FOIA request I sent to the St. Joseph County Warrants & Fugitive Division requesting a list of outstanding warrants, was met with the same obfuscation. While other counties in Indiana provide a list of their outstanding warrants on line, St. Joseph County claims no such list exists, at least not one they want to provide their employers,  the general public.


Undeterred, I was able to find a lengthy list of outstanding warrants for St. Joseph County at Not surprisingly there were a number of open warrants for failure to appear for court on charges ranging from battery, robbery and auto theft to weapons possession, forgery and habitual traffic offenses. Offenders, who at the discretion of the St. Joseph County judges or its sheriff were released from jail and back into society on a10% cash deposit, 90% free bond.


The residents of South Bend continue to be victimized by elected officials, appointed judges and law enforcement executives who have intentionally opted to use a minimum standard for guaranteeing a criminal defendant’s appearance in court. A fully secured bail bond remains the most effective option for ensuring a criminal defendant appears for court and justice and public safety is served, it’s no air sandwich.

via Cash Deposit Bail a Classic Air Sandwich – Where in the World is Mike Whitlock? | American Surety Company – The Bail Insurance Company.

What to Expect as a Small Business from the IRS in 2012

AIA’s Chief Financial Officer, Mark Francis, provides his insights into important IRS rule changes that could potentially have both positive and negative impacts to your bail bond business.

In 2012, Many Tax Benefits Increase Due to Inflation Adjustments
by Mark Francis, CFO – AIA
For tax year 2012, personal exemptions and standard deductions will rise and tax brackets will widen due to inflation, the Internal Revenue Service announced today.
By law, the dollar amounts for a variety of tax provisions, affecting virtually every taxpayer, must be revised each year to keep pace with inflation. New dollar amounts affecting 2012 returns, filed by most taxpayers in early 2013, include the following:
The value of each personal and dependent exemption, available to most taxpayers, is $3,800, up $100 from 2011. The new standard deduction is $11,900 for married couples filing a joint return, up $300, $5,950 for singles and married individuals filing separately, up $150, and $8,700 for heads of household, up $200. Nearly two out of three taxpayers take the standard deduction, rather than itemizing deductions, such as mortgage interest, charitable contributions and state and local taxes.
Tax-bracket thresholds increase for each filing status. For a married couple filing a joint return, for example, the taxable-income threshold separating the 15-percent bracket from the 25-percent bracket is $70,700, up from $69,000 in 2011.
Credits, Deductions, and Related Phase Outs
For tax year 2012, the maximum earned income tax credit (EITC) for low- and moderate- income workers and working families rises to $5,891, up from $5,751 in 2011. The maximum income limit for the EITC rises to $50,270, up from $49,078 in 2011.The credit varies by family size, filing status and other factors, with the maximum credit going to joint filers with three or more qualifying children.
The foreign earned income deduction rises to $95,100, an increase of $2,200 from the maximum deduction for tax year 2011.
The modified adjusted gross income threshold at which the lifetime learning credit begins to phase out is $104,000 for joint filers, up from $102,000, and $52,000 for singles and heads of household, up from $51,000.
The $2,500 maximum deduction for interest paid on student loans begins to phase out for married taxpayers filing a joint return at $125,000 and phases out completely at $155,000, an increase of $5,000 from the phase out limits for tax year 2011. For single taxpayers, the phase out ranges remain at the 2011 levels.
Estate and Gift
For an estate of any decedent dying during calendar year 2012, the basic exclusion from estate tax amount is $5,120,000, up from $5,000,000 for calendar year 2011.
The annual exclusion for gifts remains at $13,000.