James Pflueger

BY JIM DOOLEY – Over prosecutors’ protests, the criminal tax case against beleaguered auto dealer

James Pflueger

and land developer James Pflueger and several co-defendants has been splintered into three separate trials.

Pre-trial rulings in federal court have held that Pflueger, 85, must be tried separately from accountant Dennis Duban,who allegedly helped Pflueger file false income tax returns.

Pflueger is awaiting trial in state court on manslaughter charges after several Kauai residents died when a dam on Pflueger property breached.

The tax and manslaughter cases are unrelated.

Today the U.S. Attorney’s office filed a motion asking Dist. Judge Leslie Kobayashi to reconsider a ruling that appears to require three separate trials in the criminal case.

Kobayashi held that three of Pflueger’s co-defendants, including his son, Alan, and two employees of the Pflueger family’s auto dealerships, must go to trial next month on charges that the car dealership was used to illegally pay James Pflueger’s personal expsenses.

Duban must go to trial in September and James Pflueger early next year, Kobayashi ruled.

In their motion today, prosecutors asked Kobayashi to reconsider that schedule, arguing that Duban should stand trial in the case scheduled to begin next month.

“If the current order stands, the government will be forced to unnecessarily try the personal expense case three times: once against Charles Alan Pflueger, Kurata and Kam, once against Duban, and once against James Pflueger, prosecutors said.

A separate appeal is pending on another court decision that James Pflueger and Duban must be tried separately.

The decision was based on a defense argument that Duban has information exonerating Pflueger but could not deliver such testimony if tried jointly with the Pflueger because of self-incrimination risks.

Prosecutors have protested that ruling, issued by U.S. Magistrate-Judge Barry Kurren, and asked that it be overturned.

Alternatively, they have asked that James Pflueger’s trial be held before Duban’s.

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