HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Residents in a Kapolei neighborhood are sleeping easier after a suspected gambling house in the area was shut down over the weekend.
The house, which is located within a Hawaiian Homes subdivision, has been a point of contention among members of a west Oahu family for the last two years.
The trouble started when Clyde Paling, the home’s owner, died two years ago.
The eventual plan was for his two daughters to end up with the house, but with no clear beneficiary on paper, his former girlfriend moved in ― and is said to have transformed it into an illegal gaming haven.
“Just a lot of damage,” said Paling’s sister, Meiling Kamealoha.
“They literally rebuilt, put up walls in the interior of the home, put like second doors, they boarded up every window. They gutted out my brother’s bathroom. Just unreal, the things that could have happened in my brother’s home, and it was basically his home for his family, his two children.”
After hearing of the suspected illegal activity, Paling’s family lobbied the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to step in, but received no resolution.
“I keep calling the department, then they reach out to me and tell me, ‘OK, we’ll have an enforcement team come out,‘” Kamealoha said. “But they came out once through the process of two years and now my brother’s house is damaged. It’s just been an ongoing problem.”
Out of desperation, the family reached out to state Sen. Kurt Fevella of Ewa Beach, who went directly to DHHL director William Aila.
“At least once or twice a week I write letters, so Aila’s last letter to me is he notified the local law enforcement, they doing their due diligence, but nobody came here to shut it down,” Fevella said.
Significant action didn’t come until this weekend, when the suspected game room operators cleared out after possibly hearing Fevella and neighbors were planning to confront them with authorities.
Yet the damage to the home may already be too far gone.
“My whole idea was to actually get everything I could get for my nieces, and making sure they go in the right direction, you know,” said Clyde’s brother, Steven Paling III.
DHHL issued a response to Hawaii News Now late Monday afternoon on the matter, saying it is aware of concerns raised and “has gathered necessary information for the case and is proceeding with the standard administrative process for homesteads that are left without a named successor.”
As for the whereabouts of Paling’s former girlfriend? The family says that is not known at this time.