Four former employees of Ka Loko Reservoir dam owner James Pflueger were subpoenaed by a special grand jury this week, according to their attorney, which could be the first step toward a criminal investigation of the deadly 2006 breach.
Mark Zenger said yesterday that four of his clients, Gordon Rosa, Pflueger’s property manager, along with fellow employees Mark Comstock, Junior Pegeder and Antonio Sagucio contacted him when they received notices requesting their presence in court.
Zenger said that he spoke with two representatives from the Hawai‘i Attorney General’s office, identified only as Mark and Susan, looking to secure “transactional immunity” for his clients, which would protect them from prosecution for statements made to the grand jury.
Without those assurances, the four would simply “plead the fifth” to any questions that could implicate them in any wrongdoing.
Zenger said that the representatives of the Attorney General told him they would take his request “up the chain of command.”
None of his four clients have yet testified before the grand jury. Pegeder and Sagucio were scheduled to appear Monday morning, and Rosa and Comstock were to appear Tuesday morning.
Zenger also said that he saw “a whole slew of guys” related to the dam breach outside of the courtroom on those two days, including Roger Taniguchi and Lance Fu, and heard “from a good source” that former Kaua‘i mayor Maryanne Kusaka had been subpoenaed.
Zenger estimated that he saw about a dozen related parties outside of the courtroom over the course of the two days.
Attorney General Mark Bennett did not return a phone message as of press time.
“We were all taken by surprise,” said Teresa Tico of herself and fellow civil litigants, who were at the Courthouse when word of the investigative grand jury broke.
Tico and a host of other attorneys are currently working on a pair of civil lawsuits against Pflueger for his role in the disaster.
Tico said yesterday that motions filed by Pflueger’s legal team attempting to postpone the civil suits for another two years on the grounds that any criminal matters should be handled first were denied by the court.
The lawsuit covering wrongful death of seven individuals is scheduled for trial in February 2009, with the property damage lawsuit to follow at some point during the fall.
• Michael Levine, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or email@example.com