Maui News

8 Indicted in Hawai’i Island Gambling Case

November 28, 2012, 12:33 PM HST
* Updated November 28, 12:34 PM
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By Wendy Osher

Seven Hawai’i Island residents were arrested today for alleged involvement in an illegal gambling business.

The arrests follow a November 20, 2012 federal grand jury indictment for allegedly operating an illegal gambling business and conspiring to do so.

Individuals included in the indictment were: Eric Ford, 45; Marlo Banasan, 34; Matthew Phillips, 39; Kendale Limahai, 47; Robert Bland, 35; Jonah Yardley, 37; and Trevor Carter, 24.

The grand jury also charged Eric Ford and an eighth defendant, Barbara Ford, 44, with 25 counts for allegedly structuring financial transactions for the purpose of evading federal reporting requirements.

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All seven Big Island residents were arrested today.  Bland, who is now a resident of Arizona, had not been arrested at last report.

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The indictment alleges that Eric Ford operated an illegal gambling business out of a water company business located in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.  The alleged activity occurred between November 2009 and November 20, 2012.

The indictment further alleges that the gambling operation consisted of sports betting and various gambling events, including poker 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.

If convicted of the gambling and conspiracy charges, each defendant faces a maximum term of five years in prison on each count. Each of the structuring charges also carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

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“The Hawaii Police, the IRS and the FBI remain committed to dismantling organized crime on the Big Island for the greater good of the local citizens,” said Honolulu FBI Special Agent Tom Simon.

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, investigators were able to uncover what they called an “illegal gambling enterprise.”

“This case began with some great investigative work from the Hawaii Police, and we were proud to supplement their efforts with federal law enforcement resources,” said Agent Simon.

Arraignments are set for tomorrow in Honolulu US District Court.

The charges in the indictment are merely accusations, and each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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