18 men in alleged Hawaii prison gang indicted on racketeering charges
Updated On: Sep 24 2013 06:59:42 PM HST
A federal grand jury indicted 18 men on racketeering-related charges related to their membership or association with a criminal organization identified as the "USO Family," in an indictment which was unsealed when several defendants were taken into custody on Sept. 24, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The indictment alleges that the USO Family is the dominant prison gang in Hawaii and operates both inside and outside the State of Hawaii prison system.
Florence T. Nakakuni, United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii, said that the indictment charged the following six defendants with a racketeering conspiracy consisting of multiple acts of fraud, methamphetamine and marijuana distribution, and bribery:
- Charlie Esera, 46
- Billy Wond, 38
- Opherro Jones, 39
- David Kahui, 34
- Robin Lee, 52
- Feso Malufau, 54
The indictment further charges the following 13 defendants with assaulting three different persons (in three different counts of the indictment) for the purpose of gaining entrance to or maintaining or increasing position within the USO Family:
- James Moser, 24
- Paul Togia, 33
- Vaofele Iiga, 35
- Clarence Butler, 34
- Potaufa Ula, 27
- Shadrach Unea, 28
- Moses Thompson, 34
- Daniel Kenolio, 28
- Opherro Jones
- William Shinyama, 43
- Tineimalo Adkins, 33
- Akoni Davis, 24
- Travis Nishioka, 24
Defendant Lee is also charged with six counts of making false claims for income tax refunds for four of the other defendants. The indictment alleges that the filing of fraudulent tax returns for refunds is an activity the USO Family used to fund its operations, including bribing prison guards.
According to the indictment, the USO Family has evolved into an organized group with rules and regulations to ensure loyalty by members and participation by members in the criminal activities of the organization. The USO Family enterprise is alleged to have a defined structure, with leadership and "soldier" positions.
For each of the four racketeering-related counts, the defendants face a maximum period of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000. The maximum penalties on each of the false claim charges are five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. An indictment is merely an accusation, and each defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, the State of Hawaii Department of Public Safety, and the Honolulu Police Department. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Michael Nammar.
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