SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — The former Orange County attorney charged with strangling his ex-wife and throwing her body overboard during a May 2006 Italian cruise was extradited to Orange County Friday.
Lonnie Loren Kocontes, 55, of Safety Harbor, Fla., faces a charge of murder for financial gain. Prosecutors believe he killed his ex-wife, Micki Kanesaki, to obtain her bank accounts and property, including the marital home.
Kocontes is expected to be arraigned Monday in Santa Ana. He was arrested in Florida last month.
During questioning in 2006, Kocontes told police his wife was despondent and that she likely jumped overboard. An autopsy revealed the woman had been strangled.
The couple met while the victim was a paralegal in the law firm where Kocontes worked in the early 1990s. They married in 1995 and divorced six years later. The couple still lived together from time to time through 2006.
Kocontes came to the attention of federal investigators in 2008 while he allegedly tried to move $1 million between various bank accounts with his new wife, according to the District Attorney’s Office. Federal prosecutors seized the money in a civil asset forfeiture case.
Prosecutors — federal and Orange County — met in 2010 to discuss an alleged murder. New evidence was reportedly unearthed by Orange County sheriff’s investigators in 2011, leading to Kocontes’ arrest, prosecutors said.