Mark Zuckerberg has purchased more property on Kauai including the Kaloko Reservoir, further adding to his 1,300-acre estate. Not unlike the other Zuckerberg Kauai acquisitions, this $17 million, 110-acre addition is controversial and this time includes a haunted and most tragic past.
The tragedy at Kaloko reservoir.
Zuckerberg’s latest purchase was part of a retired sugar plantation, but more significantly, includes Kaloko reservoir which was once part of the property’s irrigation. You may recall, however, as we do, the indelible memory of when the ancient reservoir’s earthen walls collapsed. It sent a deadly wave of water down a Kauai slope, wiping out everything in its path and killing seven people. As the nearby property owner whose family was killed at the time said, “Oh my God, everything’s been washed away.” That event occurred during an unprecedented and unforgettable 40 days of torrential rain, some fifteen years ago. For a long time, some of the damage was apparent from the highway. Ultimately vegetation grew back, obscuring the incredible damage.
The dam was previously owned by wealthy Hawaii car dealer James Pflueger who pled no contest to felony reckless endangerment. The sentence was 7 months in jail and 5 years probation. Pfleuger was released from jail early due to medical reasons and later died. His company also pled no contest to manslaughter.
It was alleged that Pflueger had intentionally blocked the dam spillway to raise the water level in order to create waterfront property. Settlement on behalf of the victims and others whose property was destroyed, which included Bette Midler, included a $25 million payment.
Zuckerberg’s representatives indicated that they will follow all legal requirements with regards to the dam’s safety going forward.
Kauai Mayor was implicated in deadly dam breakage at new Zuckerberg property.
The county had received complaints about illegal grading associated with Kaloko reservoir. Later the state attorney general said that the dam’s critical spillway had been covered despite warnings about the safety implications.
It was reported, including on ABC’s 20/20, that the prior owner had given a large, illegal and unreported $9,000 cash contribution to then-mayor Maryanne Kusaka to get inspectors to look the other way in terms of damn safety. Pfleuger said he gave the money to Kusaka because he believed she needed the help. Kusaka later testified before a Kauai grand jury. It was widely rumored that she received immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony against Flueger.
When Kusaka was asked about it by 20/20 reporters, she covered her face, did not respond, fled, and then refused to answer subsequent questions.
Zuckerberg’s last acquisition: Kauai’s fishpond.
Recently, Zuckerberg also acquired the largest fishpond on Kauai in exchange for a $4 Million donation.
The 600-year-old Menehune (Alakoko) fish pond consists of over 100 acres near Lihue. It had been for sale for years for up to $12 million.
Zuckerberg provided a donation to the Trust For Public Land to help them acquire the fish pond to preserve its cultural and environmental significance.
Zuckerberg’s Kauai home.
According to previously issued county building permits, the Zuckerberg’s have a 57,000 square foot single-family residence with a total of 25 bathrooms on their original Kilauea Kauai property.