Lonnie Kocontes, 55, a former Mission Viejo, was arrested Friday at his home in Safety Harbor, Florida, in connection with the death of his former wife, Micki Kanesaki, 52, of Ladera Ranch. He is charged with one felony count of special circumstances for financial gain.
Kocontes, a former Orange County attorney, is suspected of killing his wife on the night of May 25, 2006, or the morning of May 26, by strangling her and throwing her body overboard.
At the time, Kocontes reported his wife missing. He told authorities that the couple had retired to bed when about 1 a.m. Kanesaki stepped out to get a cup of tea to help her relax and never returned. But an autopsy revealed Kanesaki had been strangled. Her body was found on the morning of May 27 by the Italian coast guard, floating in the sea near Reggio di Calabria.
He is accused of financially benefiting from Kanesaki’s death because he was the beneficiary of several of their bank accounts and property and was receiving the proceeds from the sale of their home. In 2008, Kocontes is accused of attempting to transfer $1 million between various banks accounts with his new wife, Katherine. The FBI began investigating the money transfers for possible illegal activity and the U.S. attorney’s office ultimately seized the money from Kocontes’ bank account.
On Wednesday, the district attorney filed its murder case against Kocontes. If convicted, he faces a maximum life sentence in state prison without the possibility of parole and is eligible for the death penalty, authorities said. Kocontes, who is being held without bail, also faces extradition proceedings at a date to be determined.
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