Felony charges of first-degree theft and second-degree forgery against a Hilo attorney have been dropped.
Hilo Circuit Judge Peter Kubota dismissed the charges against Paul J. Sulla and Halai Heights LLC on Dec. 12.
The charges surrounded a narrow piece of land with an easement road in lower Puna, and the complainants were Leonard J. Horowitz and/or the Royal Bloodline of David.
Horowitz and Sulla have been involved in civil litigation for a decade-and-a-half, with Horowitz making online claims of theft and fraud against Sulla, who represented another party in a foreclosure proceeding on the property.
“I feel greatly relieved that I finally was able to shut down all their complaining on the internet about the foreclosure and how it was theft and fraud,” Sulla said Tuesday. He added the case and publicity surrounding it had hurt his reputation for more than a year.
Sulla’s attorney, Brian De Lima, moved for the dismissal, claiming prosecutorial misconduct because prosecutors did not present evidence that could exonerate Sulla to a grand jury.
County prosecutors agreed to a dismissal without prejudice, which means they are free to file charges. They, however, claim they didn’t have prior knowledge of the exculpatory evidence.
“This should have never been brought as a criminal case. It was a longstanding (civil) dispute, highly litigated,” De Lima said. “It’s always been our contention that this has been an ongoing litigation dispute between Mr. Sulla and the Horowitzes. It was a foreclosure, and Mr. Sulla represented the plaintiff in the foreclosure action.
“The bottom line is Mr. Sulla prepared a deed from a legal description he obtained from a status report that he had requested from Title Guaranty. On top of that, he had been paying the taxes on the (property), and he was involved in ongoing discussions with the county … in regards to the disposition of that (property).”
County Prosecutor Mitch Roth, who is now Hawaii Island’s mayor-elect, didn’t return a phone call seeking comment.
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