Safety Harbor resident charged with killing his ex-wife - WFLA News Channel 8

Seven year investigation lands Safety Harbor man in jail for murder

Posted: Updated:
Lonnie Kocontes residence in Safety Harbor Lonnie Kocontes residence in Safety Harbor

A California attorney, now living in Safety Harbor, could be sentenced to death for killing his ex-wife seven years ago.

US Marshals and local law enforcers teamed up Friday night to arrest Lonnie Kocontes, 55, in Pasco County. He is charged with killing his ex-wife, Micki Kanesaki, for financial gain. Orange County District Attorney Chief of Staff Susan Kang Schroeder said Kocontes killed Kanesaki on a May 2006 cruise around Italy.

"Mr. Kocontes is accused of strangling his wife and then throwing her body overboard," said Schroeder.

FBI agents later discovered more than $1 million in illegal money transfers. Schroeder said Kocontes attempted to move the money from his ex-wife's accounts to accounts he set up with his new wife. The US Attorney's Office seized the money and the Orange County District Attorney's office began investigating the connection between the forfeiture and Kanesaki's death.

"We have charged a special circumstances first degree murder, which has a minimum penalty of life without the possibility of parole and with a special allegation that he did it for financial gain," said Schroeder.

Kocontes is eligible for the death penalty, according to Schroeder.

Four months after Kanesaki's body washed up on an Italian beach, Kocontes purchased a home in Safety Harbor, according to Pinellas County Property records. Neighbors said Kocontes spent time serving on the Cypress Hollow Homeowners Association board. Gary Schaaf said some neighbors were aware of allegations against Kocontes before he was arrested because they read articles about him online.

"A simple Google search revealed a lot of things," said Schaaf.  "You had to expect something might happen, so it was always in the back of our minds."

Kocontes previously served two stints in prison for burglary and drug charges. He was also charged with sexual acts and lewd conduct on a child under 16. That charge was later dropped after the girl became too distraught to testify, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Kocontes is being held without bail at the Pasco County Jail.  Schroeder said the Orange County District Attorney's office wants to extradite him to California for prosecution.

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Are background checks enough for Florida teachers?

    Are background checks enough for Florida teachers?

    Friday, April 18 2014 7:41 PM EDT2014-04-18 23:41:35 GMT

    In an effort to weed out potential perverts, Florida law requires fingerprinting and criminal background checks before school districts hire employees that will have any contact with children.

    In an effort to weed out potential perverts, Florida law requires fingerprinting and criminal background checks before school districts hire employees that will have any contact with children.


  • Pasco mix-up sends registration notices to wrong drivers

    Pasco mix-up sends registration notices to wrong drivers

    Friday, April 18 2014 6:02 PM EDT2014-04-18 22:02:51 GMT
    The vehicle registration information of hundreds of drivers in Pasco County were sent to the wrong person in a mix-up that led to the firing of a contractor.
    The vehicle registration information of hundreds of drivers in Pasco County were sent to the wrong person in a mix-up that led to the firing of a contractor.
  • Flushable wipes, not so flushable says Tampa's wastewater officials

    Flushable wipes, not so flushable says Tampa's wastewater officials

    Friday, April 18 2014 3:52 PM EDT2014-04-18 19:52:20 GMT
    Personal wipes, baby wipes, face wipes, flushable wipes. They are all designed to help us deal with delicate issues. But the wipes themselves are actually pretty sturdy and increasingly local water systems are finding they are creating costly problems.
    Personal wipes, baby wipes, face wipes, flushable wipes. They are all designed to help us deal with delicate issues. But the wipes themselves are actually pretty sturdy and increasingly local water systems are finding they are creating costly problems.
  • NewsMore>>

  • SKorean president: Ferry crew actions 'murderous'

    SKorean president: Ferry crew actions 'murderous'

    Monday, April 21 2014 3:13 AM EDT2014-04-21 07:13:43 GMT
    South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Monday that the captain and some crew members of the sunken ferry committed "unforgivable, murderous acts" in the disaster, which left more than 300 people dead or missing.
    South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Monday that the captain and some crew members of the sunken ferry committed "unforgivable, murderous behavior" in the disaster, which left more than 300 people dead or missing.
  • After bombs, Boston Marathon under tight security

    After bombs, Boston Marathon under tight security

    Monday, April 21 2014 3:06 AM EDT2014-04-21 07:06:47 GMT
    For years, state and local officials have conducted a "tabletop exercise" before the Boston Marathon, a meeting that allows them to study a map of the 26.2-mile course from Hopkinton to Boston's Copley Square...
    For years, state and local officials have conducted a "tabletop exercise" before the Boston Marathon, a meeting that allows them to study a map of the 26.2-mile course from Hopkinton to Boston's Copley Square and plan...
  • Two killed, two injured in Tampa park shooting

    Two killed, two injured in Tampa park shooting

    Monday, April 21 2014 2:23 AM EDT2014-04-21 06:23:07 GMT
    Nico CrawfordNico Crawford
    Two people were killed and two injured in a shooting at Al Barnes Park on 32nd Street in east Tampa on Sunday. Zedmon Culpepper, 17, and Nico Charles Crawford, 22, died at the scene, Tampa police said. The two injured victims, whose names were not released, were in critical condition at Tampa General Hospital late Sunday.
    Two people were killed and two injured in a shooting at Al Barnes Park on 32nd Street in east Tampa on Sunday. Zedmon Culpepper, 17, and Nico Charles Crawford, 22, died at the scene, Tampa police said. The two injured victims, whose names were not released, were in critical condition at Tampa General Hospital late Sunday.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.