Federal Grand Jury Indicts Eight In Connection With Big Island Gambling Business

Vida G. Bottom, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Harry S. Kubojiri, Police Chief of the Hawaii Police Department, Kenneth J. Hines, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, and Florence T. Nakakuni, United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii, announced that law enforcement officers today arrested persons on the Big Island indicted by a federal grand jury in Honolulu on November 20, 2012, for operating an illegal gambling business and conspiring to do so.

Picture courtesy of KHON 2 News

Charged with those offenses are:

  • Eric Ford, age 45
  • Marlo Banasan, 34
  • Matthew Phillips, 39
  • Kendale Limahai, 47
  • Robert Bland, 35
  • Jonah Yardley, 37
  • Trevor Carter, 24

A Slot Machine shop in Hilo

The grand jury also charged Eric Ford and an eighth defendant, Barbara Ford, age 44, with 25 counts of structuring financial transactions for the purpose of evading federal reporting requirements, which include the filing of a Currency Transaction Report with the IRS by a financial institution in regard to any currency transaction over $10,000. All seven of the Big Island residents, everyone except Bland, now a resident of Arizona, were arrested today.

United States Attorney Nakakuni said that according to the indictment, Eric Ford operated an illegal gambling business from at least November 2009, until November 20, 2012, out of a water company business located in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. The indictment alleges that the gambling operation consisted of sports betting and various gambling events, to include poker games and craps games, and used an offshore gaming website. The six other defendants, not including Barbara Ford, are alleged to have assisted Eric Ford in the taking of bets, collection of gambling debts, and payment of gambling winnings.

A Slot Machine shop in Hilo

If convicted of the gambling and conspiracy charges, each defendant faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years on each count. Each of the structuring charges also carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The charges in the indictment are merely accusations and each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The case resulted from an investigation initiated by the Hawaii Police Department’s Criminal Intelligence Unit. Through an established partnership among the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Hawaii Police Department, and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, investigators were able to uncover the breadth of the illegal gambling enterprise. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Nammar is handling the prosecution.

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