Arcade owners re-indicted as prosecutors try again to get gambling convictions

Arcade owners re-indicted as prosecutors try again to get gambling convictions
Published: May. 23, 2016 at 9:17 PM HST|Updated: May. 23, 2016 at 11:04 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The owners of several Oahu game rooms were arrested for a second time Monday as Honolulu's prosecutor seeks to once again bring them up on felony gambling charges.

The high-profile prosecution of game room owners and seizure of their machines in 2014 led to months of court battles and allegations of prosecutor misconduct. The charges were eventually dismissed, though, in an embarrassing episode for the prosecutor's office.

On Monday, Honolulu police officers were waiting at headquarters as the arcade owners surrendered again. Bench warrants were issued for game room owners Tracy Yoshimura, Mike Miller and Eugene Simeona last week.

In 2014, when Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro and Police Chief Louis Kealoha indicted them and several others, they called a news conference to describe the biggest indictment ever in the islands: 414 counts, all related to suspected gambling devices.

But that trial ended with all the charges being dismissed.

Lead prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, the police chief's wife, was criticized for how she handled the case.

"They've picked up, dusted themselves off and are continuing, but they're not going to get over the taint of that first initial prosecution," says Victor Bakke, attorney for Mike Miller.

"It appears they're making a lot of the same, serious mistakes that resulted in it getting thrown out last time," says defendant Tracy Yoshimura.

Instead of 414 counts, there are 47 this time.  Because the new, secret indictments came down back in February, the clock for their right to a speedy trial has been ticking for awhile.

"They have six months from the date they file charges to get this case to trial, they've already burned three of those months," says Bakke.

New deputy prosecutors are leading the case, but Yoshimura says he and the co-defendants are being unfairly targeted by that office.

"This is all being carried out at a tremendous expense to taxpayers, a waste of HPD's time money and efforts."

The prosecutor's office declined to comment on the new indictments.

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