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Feds Obtain More Than $1.9 Million in Forfeitures from Hawaii Illegal Gambling Operations
By News Release @ 2:13 PM :: 1328 Views :: Gambling

United States Obtains More Than $1.9 Million in Forfeitures from Illegal Gambling Operations

News Release from U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Hawaii, Tuesday, February 20, 2024

HONOLULU – In January 2024, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Hawaii (“USAO”) obtained an order forfeiting $307,523.32 to the United States. The forfeiture order was obtained as part of a settlement in a civil forfeiture action filed in 2020 against a residence located at 1649A Paula Drive in Honolulu. The United States alleged the residence was purchased using illegal gambling proceeds and the $307,523.32 was paid in lieu of forfeiting the residence.

Previously, in 2019, the USAO filed a civil forfeiture action seeking forfeiture of four real properties and other seized property. Both the Paula Drive forfeiture action and the 2019 action resulted from a joint criminal and civil investigation into an illegal gambling business operating at least nine illegal game rooms. The Department of Homeland Security (HSI), the Hawaii High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program (HIDTA), the Honolulu Police Department (HPD), and other law enforcement partners conducted the investigation, which began in 2018 and resulted in 12 criminal convictions, including operation of an illegal gambling business out of a single-family residence located at 94-103 Pupupuhi Street in Waipahu and another location in Pearl City. Federal search warrants executed at those locations, as well as another game room and other properties used in the gambling business, resulted in the seizure of U.S. currency, gaming machine paraphernalia, and other property. Simultaneously, seizure warrants were executed at several financial institutions for funds that constituted proceeds of gambling or funds involved in structuring.

The 2019 civil forfeiture action sought forfeiture of the seized property and the forfeiture of four real properties, including the Pupupuhi Street game room and an apartment located on South Street in Honolulu that was purchased with illegal proceeds. Ultimately, the civil forfeiture action resulted in the forfeiture of $885,070.14, which includes forfeiture of the seized U.S. currency and the proceeds of forfeiting the Waipahu game room and the South Street apartment. The amount also includes a $360,000 settlement payment to resolve the forfeiture claim as to a third real property located on Liliha Street.

“Forfeiture provides a critical tool for law enforcement in its efforts to disrupt illegal enterprises and reduce criminal activity in our community,” said U.S. Attorney Clare E. Connors. “Illegal gambling businesses cause significant harm and the successful forfeiture of more than $1 million from this illegal gambling operation reflects our commitment to pursuing both criminal and civil actions.”

Assistant U.S Attorneys Sydney Spector and Rachel Moriyama handled the forfeiture litigation.

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SA: $1.9M in forfeitures collected from illegal gambling operations on Oahu

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