Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Husband of Housewives' star acquitted in murder trial

Sensational Vancouver gangland slaying case

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VANCOUVER-- The husband of a star in Vancouver's version of the reality TV show Real Housewives is a star of sorts himself, acquitted along with notorious crime boss Bindy Johal in Vancouver's most sensational gangland murder trial.

According to her cast bio for The Real Housewives of Vancouver, Reiko MacKenzie -- "a Japanese-Canadian bombshell" who spends her spare time studying mixed martial arts and collecting exotic sports cars -- is married to a "soft-spoken venture capitalist."

While her husband is not named in her biography, property records obtained by the Vancouver Province show "consultant" Reiko MacKenzie owns a mansion valued at $3.5 million along with a professional "day trader" known as Sun MacKenzie, who has also been known as Sun News MacKenzie and Sun News Lal.

Sun News Lal was considered a suspect in the 1994 murders of Jim and Ron Dosanjh, victims of a turf war between rival factions of a drug gang.

He was later acquitted in a trial along with colourful crime boss Bindy Johal, Peter Gill and three others.

The murder trial gained notoriety when it was later revealed that outside of the court, juror Gillian Guess had an affair with Gill, who was out on bail at the time. Guess was later convicted of obstruction of justice.

Sun News Lal was charged for possessing a restricted weapon in 1994 -- a .25-calibre semi-automatic handgun -- and lost his appeal of his conviction in 1998.

In July 1998, his half-brother, Vinuse News MacKenzie, 27, was killed with a gunshot to the head after five men broke into the Vancouver home owned by the parents of Vinuse and Sun News Lal.

At the time, Vancouver police suspected the break-in was a so-called "drug rip" -- a theft of illegal drugs -- organized by the Big Circle Boys.

Both of MacKenzie's parents were also wounded in the attack -- his mother in the leg, his father in the chest -- but survived.

No one associated with the show, which premières April 4, agreed to be interviewed by the Vancouver Province.

But Barbara Williams of Shaw Media, which will air the show on its Slice Network, and Louise Clark, of Lark Productions, the Vancouver-based production company that shot the show, released the following joint statement:

"Casting for The Real Housewives of Vancouver is a rigorous and thorough process. We acknowledge the level of interest that has developed relating to The Real Housewives of Vancouver cast member Reiko MacKenzie and her husband Sunny MacKenzie.

"Reiko and Sunny married several years after he was acquitted. Today, almost two decades later, they are focused on their family and future together."

According to court records, Sun MacKenzie was still known as Sun News Lal in February 2000, when he was convicted for excessive speeding.

Documents connected to leases for exotic vehicles show that he changed his name some time after 2000.

The vehicle leases connected to Sun MacKenzie include a 2007 Bentley Continental Flying Spur, Ferrari F430 Spider, Lamborghini Murcielago and 2011 Ferrari 458 Italia.

According to Reiko's cast biography: "She and her husband, a soft-spoken venture capitalist, have two daughters, aged eight and two. Her very active household, which includes her mother who lives with them, keeps Reiko on her toes. It's no secret she loves the lavish lifestyle. Their fleet of high-end vehicles consists of nine luxury cars including Reiko's favourites -- Ferraris 599 GTO and 458 Italia valued together at $1 million."

If the producers of The Real Housewives of Vancouver -- a series known for conspicuous consumption, cleavage and cat fights -- get into hot water over the colourful history and associations of Reiko's hubby, Reiko should be equipped to tackle any adversity.

"Reiko earned her degree from the University of British Columbia with plans for law school," according to her bio, but she turned her focus to being a mother "when her first daughter came along."

"She is definitely an intriguing blend of hard and soft," her bio says. "Reiko can enter a room and turn heads in her sky-high heels, but in the ring, she'll take you out. Careful not to take sides too quickly, Reiko can dodge a conflict like a pro."

The Real Housewives franchise is no stranger to crime-related controversy.

Most notably the New York Daily News reported in 2009 that Albert (Tiny) Manzo -- the father-in-law of Real Housewives of New Jersey cast members and sisters Dina and Caroline Manzo -- was executed in August 1983, after he and Gambino family associate Peter A. Campisi were suspected of stealing from a mob-run casino on Staten Island.

Manzo was found in the trunk of a car. The crime was not solved.

Danielle Staub, a former New Jersey Housewives cast member, has a past that includes kidnapping and drug charges that resulted in her serving five years probation.

-- Postmedia News

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 2, 2012 D6

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