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Man charged in SoCal with murdering ex-wife on cruise

June 17, 2013 at 2:18 PM   |   Comments

SANTA ANA, Calif., June 17 (UPI) -- A Florida man was charged in California with murdering his former wife during a Mediterranean cruise in 2006, prosecutors said Monday.

Lonnie Kocontes, 55, of Safety Harbor had been in custody since February and was indicted late last week by an Orange County, Calif., grand jury on charges he strangled Micki Kanesaki during a cruise along the Italian coast and then dumped her body over the side.

The California murder charge includes the special-circumstance of murder for financial gain, the Orange County District Attorney's office said in a written statement. Kocontes allegedly killed Kanesaki in order to gain control of bank accounts and real estate they jointly held and faces life without parole if convicted.

Kocontes practiced law in Orange County in the 1990s at a firm where Kanesaki was a paralegal. They were married in 1995 and divorced in 2001, but lived together off and on into 2006, the statement said.

The pair took a cruise together in May 2006. They were last seen together after a port call in Messina, Italy. Kocontes reported his ex-wife missing the next day. Her body washed up two days later after Kocontes had returned to the United States.

Orange County prosecutors said Kocontes was accused by the FBI in 2008 of conducting money transfers totaling more than $1 million into bank accounts he held with his new wife. County investigators decided in 2010 to re-examine Kanesaki's death and uncovered new evidence allegedly related to a murder.

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