HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There's been a surprising twist in the federal case against three men who were allegedly caught on surveillance video holding-up a Pearl City smoke shop last year.
Wayne Okagbue, Clint Washington, Jr. and Forrester King-Akui were all arrested and charged with multiple crimes in connection with the October 2016 robbery.
Okagbue is listed in the federal indictment as the man wearing sunglasses, a hat and a plaid shirt in the video, which was taken inside the Hawaiian Holy Smokes Shop. The two other men, who appeared to be wearing "Scream" masks were also involved, and the trio made off with a total of $1,529.
Just after the robbery, the store's owner described the weapon for Hawaii News Now.
"Big, silver, chrome, .45-looking gun, and put it in my employees faces and said 'empty the register,'" said owner Jeremy Nickle.
But the weapon, according to Honolulu police department sources, is a fake, a realistic replica like those used in movie productions.
The admission presents a problem for the federal cases against the men.
An indictment against the men accuses them of Hobbs Act Robbery, which means the crime interfered with interstate commerce. A second count is for using a firearm during the robbery, but fake guns don't qualify for the second charge.
"This will drastically reduce the amount of time a judge will give," said defense attorney Victor Bakke, who is not affiliated with the case.
"Even though it's serious to go in and commit a robbery, whether it's with a baseball bat or a knife or a gun, the element of danger, for serious injury or death, is just not there without a gun."
Bakke said it's unlikely federal authorities would have taken the case in the first place if they knew the gun was a fake.
If convicted, the men will still face up to 20 years in prison for robbing the store -- real gun, or not.