Five Arrested in Illegal Gambling Operation in Hilo

Hawaiʻi Island police have arrested two men and three women in connection with an illegal gambling operation in Hilo.

Slots in Hilo
On Friday (July 26), Area I Vice Section officers served a search warrant at Hilo Arcade, which is located at 138 Kinoʻole Street. There they recovered eight gambling devices, including slot machines and computers used for gambling, as well as $1,447 in cash for forfeiture.

Two female employees, 19-year-old Morgan Kamalei Kim of Hilo and 23-year-old Nicole Enos of Hilo, were arrested at the scene on suspicion of promoting gambling, possession gambling devices and possessing gambling records.

The business owners were not present but were identified as 27-year-old Cody Gilbert Yomes of Keaʻau and 25-year-old Anthony Nakoa Areal of Keaʻau. Areal was arrested Monday morning (July 29) and Yomes was arrested Tuesday morning (July 30). Another employee, 19-year-old Ruana Garcia of Hilo was arrested Tuesday afternoon.

All five were released pending further investigation.

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.

Two Men and A Woman Arrested in Connection With Hilo Gambling Operation

Thanks to tips from the public, Hawaiʻi Island police arrested two men and a woman Tuesday (November 20) in connection with a gambling investigation in Hilo.

At approximately 9:45 a.m., Vice Section officers from Area I and II, Community Policing officers and South Hilo Patrol officers executed a search warrant at Pay Day Loans/Internet Café, located at 133 Makaʻala Street in Hilo. The search warrant was the result of an ongoing investigation using undercover officers and tips from the public, which helped corroborate suspected gambling activities at that location.

While executing the search warrant, officers seized 15 suspected gambling devices, suspected gambling records and an undisclosed sum of cash.

Serena Valenzuela

Officers arrested 40-year-old Serena Valenzuela of Pāhoa, 26-year-old Davin Maballo of Honolulu and 60-year-old Samuel Maballo of Keaʻau, all on suspicion of promoting gambling. They were later released pending further investigation.

The Hawaiʻi Police Department thanks the public for providing tips and information that assisted police with the disruption of this suspected illegal gambling operation.

Gambling in Hawaii to be Discussed at Hawaii State Association of Counties Meeting

I was at the County Council building today and I noticed on the Hawaii State Association of Counties upcoming meeting that gambling is to be discussed as a way of bringing in revenue for the State of Hawaii.

I new that this was upcoming… it was just a bit weird to actually see it in print in front of me and made me think… could gambling in Hawaii become a reality in the near future?

I saw the following posted on the window (See Item Agenda F)

See Item Agenda "F"

See Item Agenda "F"

I know that the economy is tanking and everything, but the League of Women Voters of Hawaii did a pretty extensive study on the “Facts and Issues” at the time.

Here is  the recommendations of that study done in 1997:

Margery Bronster, Hawaii’s Attorney General, provided testimony in April of 1996 which read, “It would be a severe policy error to allow the funding of state government to become partially contingent upon income from gambling. Throughout history, governments have been most responsive to those who fund them. A government which becomes heavily funded by taxing the profits of gambling organizations can be expected to become very solicitous of the desires of the gambling organizations which have become the benefactors of government.”

She went on to say that it is poor public policy to fund any government “…on the profits of gambling houses or (stated in reverse) on the losses of gamblers.”

In his book The Luck Business, Robert Goodman calls for certain measures to be taken by government. These recommendations should be considered carefully before any steps are taken to legalize gambling in Hawaii. Goodman suggests:

(1) Establish a national moratorium on the expansion of gambling ventures, including electronic gambling machines and those involving at-home interactive television or telephone betting. This will allow time for assessing the impact of what is already in place.

(2) Consider limits on the ways in which states and private business can promote and advertise gambling ventures. State governments should at least meet the truth-in-advertising standards demanded of private businesses.

(3) Reform gambling legalization processes. Not only can gambling interests afford to outspend the grass roots opposition, they are allowed to return again and again with new proposals after voters have rejected the original proposition. Governments should set limits for lobbying and promotional campaigns.

(4) Require state and local governments to commission their own thorough, independent impact studies to measure both the benefits and the costs of legalizing new gambling operations.

These concerns are reflected in the recommendations of the 1997 DBEDT report The Economic Impact Of Shipboard Gambling And Pari-Mutuel Horseracing in Hawaii. That report neither supports nor opposes legalized gambling. It does recommend that the decision not be made purely on economic or fiscal grounds, adding that, “The uncertainties in any ‘what if’ type of analysis are large in this case … larger than most. The relatively moderate expected fiscal benefits must be weighed against the uncertain but potentially large costs.”

Well my view is the economy is really tanking now and it was much different then it was back in 1997.

We seriously need to do something to increase revenue.

Is legalizing gambling in Hawaii the answer?

New Version of Akaka Bill Proposed

New version introduced to specifically ban gaming, already illegal per Hawaii law

March 25, 2009

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senators Daniel K. Akaka and Daniel K. Inouye and U.S. Representatives Neil Abercrombie and Mazie K. Hirono today introduced a slightly modified version of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act that clarifies that gambling will not be permitted, in accordance with Hawaii state law.

The entire Hawaii Delegation made the following statement:  “As an indigenous people that exercised governance until the U.S. overthrow, Native Hawaiians deserve the same opportunity to preserve their culture, language and traditions as indigenous people on the mainland.  This change in the legislation should make the bill’s intent clear and remove any distractions from its thoughtful consideration.”

The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act would provide a process for federal recognition of Native Hawaiians, similar to the government-to-government relationship provided to American Indians and Alaska Natives.  All forms of gambling are illegal in Hawaii and the Native Hawaiian Government will be subject to all state and federal laws.  The delegation reintroduced the bill with specific language prohibiting gaming in an effort to clarify that the intent of the bill is not to legalize gambling.  The gaming prohibition language was derived from legislation introduced in the 110th Congress (S. 310/H.R. 505).  Other than this one provision, the bill is identical to the version introduced on February 4, 2009.

For more information on the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, click here.

*Update #2* Should Gambling Be Legalized in Hawaii?… POLL

*Update #2*

Now the results have swung a bit more here are the current results:

Yes 63% (17 votes)
No 30% (8 votes)
Only on Hawaiian Homelands 7% (2 votes)
Total Votes: 27

Voting is still open for those who haven’t voted.  The voting service that I’m using only allows one vote per IP address, so sorry to those with multiple people in their house who may read my blog.

*Update*
Interesting results coming in.  Just one vote separates the main two choices.  Poll will remain open for about a week and I’ll bump this every few days just in case you don’t get a chance to see it the first few times it’s listed.