Bad Company: The final days of Baron Dorcy, Maui Millionaire

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The Inner and Outer Circles

If the $800,000 loan fiasco should have been a red flag for Dorcy, it wasn’t. Dorcy had a sharp wit, read avidly and had what friends called an encyclopedic memory, at least for things that interested him, such as military history and early U.S. railways. Yet he had little aptitude for business and could be strikingly inattentive to his personal finances. For much of his life, before Paulic came onboard in the mid-1990s and imposed financial discipline, Dorcy depended on quarterly distributions from the 1917 trust to cover even his most basic living expenses. Sometimes, between distributions, he found himself broke.

In the summer of 2008, around the same time Kanuha was attempting to rid himself of his debt to Dorcy, Dorcy was ridding himself of Nancy Paulic. The two had a difficult relationship. She was acerbic and domineering, while he would go out of his way to avoid confrontations. She oversaw construction of his Kula estate, and routinely overrode Dorcy’s design preferences in favor of her own. He would complain to everyone around him, but not to her. Dorcy “had still not gone beyond being a little boy,” she testified. “He did not like change. He did not like being alone. He wanted to have father figures telling him what to do.”

Dorcy and friends at the helm of the Hawaiian Chieftan.

In addition to handling his business affairs, Paulic also managed his social life. Dorcy had, in effect, two circles of friends. The broad, outer circle had to pass through Paulic to reach him. The small, inner circle had direct access. The inner circle included Dorcy’s beloved Tahitian groundskeeper and housekeeper, Tiri and Elsa Hoffsten, the son and daughter-in-law of a friend from his carefree beachbum days on Moorea in the early 1960s. It included Gilligan, who had been a confidant since the 1980s, when he helped Dorcy build and sail a 103-foot replica of a late 18th century merchant ship, the Hawaiian Chieftain. It also included Johnny Baldwin, scion of Maui’s venerable Baldwin family, and one of Dorcy’s neighbors.

With a handful of exceptions, such as Baldwin, both circles were filled with blue-collar types, friends with whom Dorcy might share his appreciation for classic cars or, perhaps, the curative powers of cannabis. But Dorcy had a longstanding desire to associate with others from socioeconomic strata similar to his own. When Baldwin died in 2009, a huge void opened in this department.

Dorcy had an idea for creating a foundation that would, after his death, manage a koa forest planted on his Kula property for the benefit of future generations. He knew of Henry Rice—descendant of one of Maui’s original missionary families and owner of the 10,000-acre Kaonoulu Ranch—and wanted Rice on his foundation’s board. As it turned out, Kanuha allegedly claimed to have a close relationship with Rice, and he was willing to serve as a liaison between the two men.

Henry Rice—the real Henry Rice—testified that, while he knew of both Kanuha and Dorcy, he never spoke to either of them. Nonetheless, starting in December 2010, Dorcy was on the phone regularly with someone he believed was Henry Rice—someone beneficiaries of the first will say was actually Petro Hoy—and the two men were hitting it off.

This “Henry Rice” was worldly, urbane and had a magnificent accent, which Dorcy thought sounded like Sean Connery’s. Although “Henry Rice” was from an old kamaaina family, he had hardly spent any time in Hawai‘i, and, like Dorcy, he knew few people on Maui. He needed a companion to shoot pool with, just as Dorcy needed someone with a well-developed vocabulary to challenge at Scrabble. Back in California, Dorcy allowed the caretaker of his Los Altos home, Raymond Castro, to listen to the speakerphone during some of his early conversations with “Henry Rice.”

Near the end of his life, Dorcy became preoccupied with planting koa trees.

“He would refer to Dorcy as his ‘brother,’ and they would talk about meeting and getting together for lunch and that sort of thing,” Castro testified. Whenever a meeting was scheduled, though, something would come up and “Rice” would cancel at the last minute.

Closed Gate. Open Letter

Meanwhile, Nancy Paulic had left, with a sizable severance package, and Dorcy recruited an old friend from California, Ann Pettigrew, as his assistant. Pettigrew and Dorcy had known each other since they were schoolmates in the 1940s. She was part of the crowd of young Californians in Waikiki with whom Dorcy ran in the 1950s. She helped to care for Dorcy’s mother when, in his mother’s later years, she needed a companion to shop with and, generally, keep her entertained. But Pettigrew lacked Paulic’s clout. She could not hold back the outer circle as Paulic could. Although Pettigrew quickly concluded that Hans Kanuha shouldn’t be hanging around, there was little she could do about it.

Kanuha knew how Pettigrew felt, and he knew she wasn’t alone. Foremost among Dorcy’s other friends with misgivings about Hanzi, as Dorcy called him, was Gilligan. This tension boiled over in an incident at the gate to Dorcy’s Kula estate on Father’s Day, 2010. Or so Dorcy was led to believe.

Johnny Baldwin had an annual tradition of hosting a Father’s Day car show at his home. In 2010, with Baldwin gone, Dorcy held the event on his own sprawling lawn. He hoped Kanuha would bring Henry Rice, whom he had yet to meet, but neither man turned up. Later, Dorcy heard a rumor that Rice and Hanzi had tried to attend but were denied entry. Dorcy was furious, and he posted a sternly worded open letter on his refrigerator, where his entourage would be sure to see it. In part, it read: “On Father’s Day I had invited my business associate, partner and friend to take some time to come by; when he did, he was turned away—PARTICULARLY HANZI—at the gate. In the truck was Hanzi and Mr. Henry Rice who discretely avoided any confrontation asking Mr. Kanuha to move along, commenting ‘It’s a good thing that Rupert [Murdoch] wasn’t along or the scene would have been, indeed, a scene.’

“Now when I have future occasion of the pleasure of meeting Mr. Henry Rice it will not be to pay my respects but to offer humble apology for having on my team someone who knows what is (and WHO is) good for me—and take initiative to order the gate welcoming committee to my new house and grounds to ban acceptance to the man whose friendship being real, poses some sort of threat from which I must be ‘protected.’”

Dorcy concluded by saying he wasn’t looking for confrontations or  confessions, but rather a 180-degree “attitude change—and possibly a crew change from this squadron.”

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,December

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