SANTA ANA (KTLA) – A former Orange County attorney has been arrested on charges of murdering his ex-wife for financial gain.
Lonnie Loren Kocontes, age 55, most recently of Safety Harbor Florida, is charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder for financial gain.
Prosecutors allege that Kocontes strangled his wife to death, then threw her overboard while on a cruise to Italy.
Kocontes was arrested on Friday (Feb. 15) in Florida and will face extradition proceedings at a date to be determined. He is being held without bail.
Kocontes and his ex-wife Micki Kanesaki married in 1995. The couple divorced in 2001, but lived together off and on through 2006.
Prosecutors allege that on May 21, 2006, Kocontes and Kanesaki flew to Spain for an ocean cruise, then on the evening of May 25, Kocontes murdered Kanesaki by strangling her to death and throwing her body overboard.
Kocontes is accused of financially benefiting from the victim’s murder by being the beneficiary of several of their bank accounts and property, and receiving the proceeds from the sale of their home.
In 2008, as the FBI investigated the death of Kanesaki, agents examined money transfers of $1 million made by Kocontes.
The United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) ultimately seized the money from Kocontes’ bank accounts for possible illegal activity.
In 2012, the Orange County District Attorney’s office requested additional investigation on the case from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, who discovered additional evidence related to the murder.
The OCDA filed the murder case against Kocontes Feb. 13, 2013.
If Kocontes is convicted, he faces a minimum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole and is eligible for the death penalty.