HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Big money and now a big time bust. Hawaii County Police and the FBI have brought down a sophisticated gambling ring that's been operating the past three years. So far seven people have been arrested and an eighth person in Arizona is expected to be booked soon.
"The indictment alleges a wide variety of illegal gambling activity that was being conducted on the Big Island using a water company as the front, that would include poker games, craps games, and illegal sports gambling," said Tom Simon, FBI Special Agent.
That water company where the betting allegedly took place is called Aloha Spring Water Company at 73-5574 Olowalu Street in Kailua Kona.
"Thank you for calling Aloha Springs Water. Our business hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 4:30 pm..." said the recording that answered the phone.
When you call their number it sounds like a real business although no one returned our calls.
The suspects also allegedly used an offshore wagering site called World Wide Wagering to place sports bets.
Eight people are named as defendants including Eric Ford, 45; Marlo Banasan, 34; Matthew Phillips, 39; Kendale Limahai, 47; Robert Bland, 35; Jonah Yardley, 37; Trevor Carter 24, and Barbara Ford, 44.
The indictment alleges Eric Ford was the ring leader, Barbara Ford helped hide the money and the other six defendants helped take bets, collect debts and pay winnings.
The operation was allegedly bringing in more than $2,000 a day and the charges include structuring the money in order to hide it from the IRS.
"The indictment alleges millions of dollars of illegal betting activity that was going on with this ring as well as some of the activity of them structuring deposits to hide the activity that was going on and that's why the IRS was involved," said Simon.
With that amount of money there had to have been a lot of customers placing bets which people should know is illegal.
"Local and federal law enforcement really aren't interested in bets among friends but when something becomes organized crime gambling, an actual gambling business that is illegal in Hawaii we're going to dismantle that," said Simon.
Each defendant faces five years in prison for each of the three counts.
Hawaii County Police arrested three other suspects in a separate gambling ring in Hilo last week as well. Officers seized 15 suspected gambling devices, gambling records and an undisclosed amount of cash from the Pay Day Loans/Internet cafe at 133 Maka'ala Street in Hilo. Officers arrested Serena Valenzuela, 40; Davin Maballo, 26 and Samuel Maballo, 60, in that case.