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Victims' family members say they were stunned by the news

By Lara Yamada
Published On: Jul 18 2013 07:07:00 PM HST

Seven years after the Kauai dam breach that killed seven people, the man facing manslaughter charges has struck a deal agreeing to plead no contest to a much lesser charge.

HONOLULU -

The families of the victims of the deadly Ka Loko Dam breach say they were blind-sided by the news that Jimmy struck a plea deal that wiped out all seven manslaughter charges against him.

It was all part of a deal with the state that 87-year-old Jimmy Pflueger was supposed to take in April.

But a month before that, Pflueger beat tax evasion charges and then subsequently changed his mind about the plea deal.

On Thursday, Pflueger changed his mind again and pleaded no contest to one felony reckless endangerment charge.

A judge then found him guilty on that charge.

As part of the deal, Pflueger's company would take the hit for the seven manslaughter charges -- that means $350,000 in fines, but likely no jail time for Pfleuger.

In March 2006 on Kauai's south side, 400 million gallons of mud flooded out of the Ka Loko Dam -- owned by Pflueger's company -- killing seven people and wiping out everything in its path.

For years, the victim's families have been fighting for justice.

Bruce Fehring's daughter, son-in-law and grandson were all killed.

"I had a grandson who would be nine years old now. I have an oldest daughter who might have had other grandchildren by this time and their gone. They're gone. That's something we live with every day and all the other victims. We live with their loss every day. Will there ever be closure? Well, that's a word that's maybe been overused," said Fehring.

Pflueger will be sentenced on Jan. 23.

The judge could impose community service, fines and up to a year in jail.

But the attorney general is recommending Pflueger get five years probation and no jail time.

His company -- Pacific 808 Properties -- which technically owns the land was fined $50,000 for each person killed in that incident, for a maximum of $350,000.

In 2001, Pflueger was convicted on 10 felony charges in a similar case -- for illegal grubbing that caused a massive mudslide that destroyed parts of the Pilaa Reef on Kauai.

Victims in that case told KITV they've received payments from insurance companies, but not a dime from Pflueger.
 

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