Two lawyers and one psychologist who helped ensure Jennifer Toma-Alonso received rights along with her mother to the entire fortune of 85-year-old Masumi Murasaki for whom she served as a "caregiver," are in court because of their professional conduct.

The 1997 guardianship case over who should have power and control over the more than $700,000 estate of Masumi came into the spotlight this year, after Jennifer Alonso-Toma married Mayoral Candidate Duke Bainum in February 2004. Jennifer is now front and center in his campaign advertisements, which focus on "honest change" and integrity. That has spurred many people to come forward, including relatives, friends and neighbors, to discuss their concerns over the Masumi Murasaki case and other lawsuits Jennifer was involved with.

The Murasaki family, who primarily reside in Florida, hired Jennifer in 1995 for $350 a month as a "caregiver" for their father. By late 1996, nearly all of Masumi's fortune had been liquidated and turned over to Jennifer, who also had gotten the 85-year-old to raise her salary to $2,500 per month.

Records on some of her expenses are found here:

"Public Record Documents in the Case of Jennifer Bainum vs. Masumi Murasaki"

The court allowed Jennifer to become the guardian for Masumi, despite his family's concerns that he was not mentally competent and still believed he was paying $400 a month for his care, when in fact nearly all of his money was spent. His fortune was spent on everything from clothes for Jennifer at her favorite store, to her then husband's credit card bills, to many other items not related to Masumi's care, according to the copies of dozens of checks from his account presented by the Murasaki family and allegedly signed by Masumi. Masumi then changed his will in late 1996, just weeks before he died in January of 1997, to benefit Jennifer and her mother, Arlene Yoshizumi.

As reported in the first article about this case, three "experts" ruled Masumi competent enough to turn over his estate willingly to Jennifer, while three others ruled he was not competent.

See "Controversy Surrounds Final Years of Life of Masumi Murasaki and His Caregiver, Jennifer Alonso-Toma, Now Wife of Mayoral Candidate Duke Bainum"

Of the two lawyers and the three experts who helped Jennifer win her case against the son, daughter, and grandchildren of Masumi, three are now in court facing civil lawsuits or sanctions by the state.

The family of Masumi, now in Hawaii from Florida to review the case, and possibly re-open it because of new information learned in the last few months, say the recent court action against these "professionals" spurs new concerns that their case did not get a fair hearing all those years ago.

Here are the backgrounds of each of the three:

Rodwin Wong, Attorney at Law

Rodwin Wong, the main attorney for Jennifer Toma-Bainum in her 1996 guardianship case against the family of Masumi, is being charged civilly by the state on more than 278 counts of defrauding consumers, including the elderly, of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Wong was in court on Friday, Oct. 22, 2004, along side Dan Fox, an improperly licensed notary and insurance agent who served jail time for federal tax evasion, and several other individuals, who state Office of Consumer Protection allege defrauded the elderly of life savings.

The Office of Consumer Protection's 55-page filing, scheduled for a second hearing on Nov. 10, 2004, includes 15 counts against 12 individuals and companies who allegedly solicited business from elderly clients under the guise of estate planning.

Once gaining their trust, the team, headed by Wong and Fox, reinvested the elderly victims' liquid assets into annuities for substantial commissions, often draining the elderly victims' bank accounts of hundreds of thousands of dollars, the filing reads.

The victims were not told they would be charged such commissions or that they would be prevented from get their money back for 10 to 20 years, unless they were willing to pay substantial financial penalties, the filing says.

Richard Lee, Attorney at Law

Richard Lee, an attorney hired by Jennifer Alonso-Toma to help her gain immediate custody of the body of 85-year-old Masumi Murasaki after he died in Jan. 28, 1997, rather than allowing Masumi's family to bury their father, has been sanctioned more than 8 times by the state.

The Office of Disciplinary Counsel, the agency that investigates lawyer misconduct, has determined that Lee has violated state ethics rules in more than a half dozen cases. The state is now in the process of determining whether Lee can keep his license to practice law in Hawaii -- a case that may go as high as the Hawaii Supreme Court. A filing is expected in that case today, Oct. 29, 2004, by both Lee and the Office of Disciplinary Council, and will become a matter of public record next week.

What the Office of Disciplinary Council did confirm yesterday:

  • In 1996, the Office of Disciplinary Council reprimanded Lee, then no longer a judge, for violating ethics rules while involved with a child-custody case he handled. The reprimand was made public.
  • Lee has been sanctioned a total of eight times by the state Office of Disciplinary Council from1999 and 2003. The violations varied widely from charging excessive fees to conducting his cases in fraudulent and deceitful ways.
  • He also was the subject of three more complaints in 2002 and 2003.
  • He will face additional sanctions and the Office of Disciplinary Council will have to decide whether to pull his license.

Marvin Acklin, Ph.D.

Marvin Acklin, Ph.D. was arrested and charged in 1990 with a domestic violence assault on his wife, Denise Acklin, after he violently choked her. He pled guilty in First Circuit Court, paid a $25 fine, and this psychologist was sentenced to "therapy." In 1995, he asked his record be wiped clean for good behavior and the court agreed.

Since, Acklin has been in court many times testifying as an "expert" in everything from family custody cases to guardianship matters to murders, including those committed by Byran Uyesugi, as he'd been the psychologist who assessed him before he was sent back to work.

The background on the case: In November 1999, Byran Uyesugi, who was employed by Xerox Corp. for 15 years, entered the main office headquarters on Nimitz Highway at 8 a.m. and shot and killed seven innocent co-workers.

Prior to this, Uyesugi displayed violent tendencies while performing a service call at First Hawaiian Bank, resulting in criminal charges being filed against him. He had violently kicked in an elevator door at First Hawaiian and threatened the lives of his co-workers.

Uyesugi was sent to Castle Medical Center for five days, where he was tested by Acklin and another doctor, but he was released despite what several civil lawsuits filed against him since the murders consider poor judgement. "Despite strong evidence that Uyesugi was suffering from a serious mental illness, the defendants (Acklin) released him after only five days of observation and treatment ... Acklin was negligent in that, among other things, no adequate disclosure of Uyesugi's condition was made, nor was adequate warning given regarding the severity of Uyesugi's mental illness and/or his foreseeable dangerousness to others..."

A lawyer representing many of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Acklin, set for trial in March 2005, says she is charging that Acklin made several assessments of Uyesugi outside of his professional scope of knowledge and capabilities. As a result, other doctors took him at his word, and did not dig further into Uyesugi's mental illness, thereby possibly preventing Uyesugi from committing the murders. Acklin, of course, is disputing those claims against him.

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